2018 KHQA All Do or Die Football Honors Team


    JIREHL AS PLAYER OF THE YEAR.jpg

    Happy Holidays my friends and warmest of the season to you and yours.

    Welcome to our 23rd annual KHQA Football Awards/All Do or Die Team celebration. The Fall of 2018 proved to be pretty extraordinary. State Championships in Boys Soccer and a Bowling Green Softball Repeat. A State-Runner Up finish for the Holy Trinity Volleyball and Bowling Green Girls Cross Country Dynasties as well as big splash 2nd Place Individual Finishes at State Golf from underclassmen Alex McCulla of QND and Emma Thorman of Macomb. A remarkable cinderella State Run for Knox County Softball. The rise of the best crop of Freshman Cross Country Runners (Fiker Rosen, Delaney Straus, and Miles Sheppard) in memory plus a fitting finish to Katelyn Robbins remarkable Liberty Running Career. And on the Gridiron, a trio of Elite Eight Teams headlined by Camp Point Central’s first ever trip to The ‘Ship. It was quite the Autumn. And within, you will find our annual celebration of the season. Do or Die Team. Awards. Observational fun moving into next season. So I hope you enjoy

    Some things to remember here going forward. Or as I like to call it, my annual disclaimer list.

    1) These awards shows, more than anything else we do all season, are based on nothing but our subjective/non-expert opinion and are intended purely as entertainment. Our decisions carry little to no weight with college scouts and rarely end up being anything more than scrapbook material for your memories in later life. In essence, don't take this stuff too seriously. It's all done in fun and with no intended disrespect to anyone. Enjoy them. Ignore them. But by all means please do not take them too seriously.

    2) You are only eligible for Do or Die Team honors on one side of the football. We pick what we feel is the skill set that best serves our purposes and draft you here for that reason. If you are a first team pick on offense, you will not be represented on any of our defensive teams, no matter how many All Conference/All State/All Universe nods you may have gotten there.

    3) Any player who received an honors code type violation and missed football games is ineligible for First Team and Player of the Year consideration. Our rationale is that if we put you on the roster, we want to be able to rely on the fact that you will make good choices to stay on the field.

    Yours in Football,

    Chris Duerr

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    2018 KHQA FOOTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR:

    (TV Feature coming Wednesday 10pm at KHQA)

    JIREHL BROCK, Quincy High

    RATIONALE: Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year. Iowa State Recruit. Quincy High Career and Single Season Rushing Leader. Viral highlight provider. Gem City Icon. All of it applies and justifies here. But that’s not what sealed this argument. To be honest with you, we thought long and hard about giving this award to Jirehl Brock last year. He wasn’t a two-way player as a Junior. In contrast, Jirehl was an incredible defensive attribute as a Rover-type as a Senior. Our baseline argument has always been what overall value to you bring to your team to help it win football games. Not where did you sign to play college ball or the visibility of the high program in which you played. Or does your name historically look good in our run down of past winners. We base these picks on what we see and how it plays out. And in that spirit, Jirehl Brock crossed every rubicon in 2018. Historic offensive productivity coupled with the sacrifice of a larger overall workload and greater leadership share. And yes, character matters too. The fact that Jirehl Brock holds up such a high standard for lifting up his teammates, his school, and his town makes bestowing the thing to him even more gratifying. In the totality of his actions, there is a very “Football Bruce Douglas” feel to Jirehl Brock’s legacy.

    Runner Up: ZACH THOMPSON, Concord Triopia

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    Past Winners:

    2017: Peyton Plunkett, Palmyra

    2016: Brodie Dunker, Unity/Payson

    2015: Matt Frankenbach, Palmyra

    2014: Trace Windsor, South Shelby

    2013: Jordan Chapel, Quincy Notre Dame

    2012: Derrek Schone, Concord Triopia

    2011: Chris Jackson, Macomb

    2010: Ser Whitaker, Illini West

    2009: Michael Lafferty, Illini West

    2008: Javis Vineyard, Clark County

    2007: James Vandenberg, Keokuk

    2006: Andrew Bergeson, Hannibal

    2005: Tony Hall, South Shelby

    2004: Trevor Frericks, Quincy Notre Dame

    2003: Cliff Bumgarner, Concord Triopia

    2002: Cody Grotts, Carthage

    2001: Jensen Jones, West Prairie/LaHarpe

    2000: Wyatt Green, Carthage

    1999: Matt Paris, Monroe City

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    2018 KHQA COACH OF THE YEAR

    RATIONALE: BRAD DIXON, Camp Point Central

    Rationale: When Bill Reed took over the long dormant Camp Point Central Football program a decade ago, he told the kids walking in the door for their introductory meeting that if they didn’t show up to this endeavor to win a state title, they might as well just turn around and head on home. His newly hired Defensive Coordinator at the time, Brad Dixon, saw to it this Fall that those words rung true. Under the direction of Dixon, his uber-creative Offensive Coordinator Casey Rhea, and perhaps the most underrated young staff in Tri-State Football, the Panthers ran onto the biggest stage in IHSA 1A Football for the very first time; making this the ultimate no-brainer selection. Hard to top 12-2 and a State Runner-Up Trophy in a program that ten years ago had zero historic pedigree of which to speak. Camp Point Central Football now matters in way that resonates across state football, and that alone should have guaranteed this honor for Coach Dixon and his crew. And yet, now that he’s worked a Lazarus Act on Panther Football; I suspect it’s Dixon’s own personal football epiphanies in his career that move me even more. There isn’t a coach in my tenure who opened his high school coaching career more impressively and successfully than Brad Dixon; who won instantly and at a ridiculously prodigious rate. The dude was 33-3 over his first three seasons. That’s insane. And yet, once the world finally caught up a little to Dixon’s befuddling defensive schemes and relentless enthusiasm and unmatched ability to achieve buy-in with his kids, there was a regression to the mean. Because of course there had to be. No one wins every game. Central had to grow through experiencing adversity. Had to experience the ego blow of The Carrollton Jinx to break on through to the next plateau. It was an inevitable, unescapable part of the process. And clearly the Panthers are better for it. But I’d argue Brad Dixon the man and coach is too. His words betray him these days. It’s more about the culture of helping to cultivate better young men through football than it is wins/losses. Not that he has in any way lost his zeal for winning. But I’d argue that Brad values the wins more now because of what they represent for his kids. I’d argue he values the experiences of being with his kids more than just about any coach I know because the idea of being “in process for him” is no longer just about chasing trophies, but chasing a better culture in football period in cultivating young men, future fathers, and guys who can succeed when real life punches them in the face in a way that is far more important than just a simple football game. It’s also why Brad throws himself every Spring into trying to cultivate the best Football Coaches Clinic in the Midwest; to assure that his peers continue to enjoy the process and see the end game of coaching now as well. That the quality men in coaching retain their enthusiasm; have it bolstered in fellowship by their peers and stay engaged in the fight through football to make the world a better place as the end game. And it’s clearly valued; which is why you so many folks from so many different walks of coaching celebrate Brad Dixon and his Panthers achievements this Fall. It’s not really about football as much as it is about “us” and Brad Dixon is truly an asset to “us” in ways completely beyond simply knowing how to gum up a zone blocking scheme. Hard to imagine a more deserving winner here.

    Runner-Up: Lyle Klein, Illini West

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    Past Winners:

    2017: David Kirby, Monroe City

    2016: David Kirby, Monroe City

    2015: Kevin Krietemeyer, Unity/Payson

    2014: Blake Logan, Van-Far

    2013: Kevin Miles, Palmyra

    2012: Brad Dixon, Central

    2011: Rob Wilt, South Shelby

    2010: Tom Little, Brown County

    2009: Jimmy Tucker, Bowling Green

    2008: Rich Thompson, Concord Triopia

    2007: Jayson Campbell, Keokuk

    2006: Mark St Clair, Hannibal

    2005: Kent O'Laughlin, South Shelby

    2004: Pete Claas, Macon

    2003: Randy Dickens, Quincy High

    2002: Jim Unruh, Carthage

    2001: Mark St. Clair, Hannibal

    2000: Par Pitts, Palmyra

    1999: Jim Unruh, Carthage

    1998: Tony Merryman, Pleasant Hill

    1997: Jay Wessler, Concord Triopia

    1996: Dale Labuary, Monroe City

    1995: Kent O'Laughlin, North Shelby (Missouri Winner)

    Jim Unruh, Carthage (Illinois Winner)

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    2018 KHQA ILLINOIS OFFENSIVE MVP

    ZACH THOMPSON, Concord Triopia

    RATIONALE: Put simply, no football player in any corner of the Tri-States had a broader or more impactful reach in 2018 than Concord Triopia’s Zach Thompson.

    While this particular award will exist to celebrate the Senior All Stater’s Offensive Contributions in leading his Trojans to the Class 1A Elite Eight; I will wholly concede that it was the totality of Zach’s Gridiron Goodness in all phases of the game that made him a bulletproof choice for us here, against some incredibly worthy candidates, as well as our eventual runner-up for overall KHQA Player of the Year honors.

    There was a point this season, where Thompson was leading the WIVC’s North Division in nearly every statistical category. He would eventually cede the Conference Tackle’s Title to Central’s Noah Strohkirch; but considering that Zach played Defensive Back rather than Linebacker, his 124 tackles remain one of the more remarkable bullet points on a remarkable resume. I might also mention here that Thompson led our region in Interceptions with seven this season as well.

    But you came here to hear about Offensive Numbers and any defense of Zach Thompson begins with his ability to use his smallish frame to net biggish scoring totals. Zach Thompson’s 30 rushing touchdowns, 204 total points, and 34 total scores were second in the entire Tri-States only to Quincy High phenom Jirehl Brock. That works out to Zach Thompson being personally responsible for just over 17 points a game himself in every Triopia contest. Moreover, his 245 carry workload is just obscene for a kid who weighs maybe 160 pounds after Thanksgiving dinner. His resonant toughness still shined through at every turn. He averaged nearly eight yards per carry and amassed 1857 total rushing yards in a dozen games, the third highest total in our region. Zach’s eleven receptions and 179 receiving yards were also team bests. Essentially, he never came off the field. Zach led the Trojans in punt return average at 33 yards per attempt, was largely avoided in the kickoff return game, and pinned three of his 10 punts on the season (yes just ten total punts, a reminder of how good at Zach Thompson/Michael Burns fueled Trojan Offense actually was this season) inside the 20 yard line.

    All of which serves to make it nearly impossible to argue that Zach Thompson’s across the board value to his own team was unmatched, the greatest wins-above-replacement individual in Tri-State Football. And scarier still, football might be his third best sport behind Basketball and Baseball moving forward.

    Runner-Up: Cole Williams, Central

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    Past Winners:

    2017: Jirehl Brock, Quincy High

    2016: Will Fox, West Hancock

    2015: Brodie Dunker, Unity/Payson

    2014: Alger Saldana, Central

    2013: Malique Robbins, Quincy High

    2012: Dalton Keene, Jacksonville

    2012: Dalton Heubner, Central-Southeastern

    2011: Garrett Kestner, Central-Southeastern

    2010: Daniel Weiman, Quincy Notre Dame

    2009: Daniel Weiman, Quincy Notre Dame

    2008: David Arendt: Concord Triopia

    2007: Taylor Joehl, Concord Triopia

    2006: Myers Hendrickson, Macomb

    2005: Dustin Jacoby, Concord Triopia

    2004: David Watts, Carthage

    2003: Ashton Gronewold, Carthage

    2002: Ashton Gronewold, Carthage

    2001: Jensen Jones, West Prairie/LaHarpe

    2000: Wyatt Green, Carthage

    1999: Wes Lundgren, West Prairie/LaHarpe

    1998: Ryan Miller, Concord Triopia

    1997: Dom Tamberelli, QND

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    2018 KHQA MISSOURI/IOWA OFFENSIVE MVP

    WILL WHITAKER, Hannibal

    RATIONALE: Hannibal Football has carved out a sterling reputation over the years for producing high caliber running backs and defensive backs.

    Wide Receivers conversely have not exactly proven a cottage industry for the program. Something I assume about actually having to throw the football with regularity to (cause and effect) get somebody to catch it.

    In some ways, the mantle of being the best pass catcher in Hannibal history was a little like being the jumbo-est of the jumbo shrimp.

    Leave it to Will Whitaker to flip that paradigm on its ear.

    Cognizant of a rare reserve of roster strength at both Wide Receiver and Tight Endand armed with a Quarterback in Gabe Worthington who had shown a proclivity for being able to sling the ball around the field, Mark St Clair felt compelled to put a greater emphasis on the passing game in 2018. And while 138 passing attempts might not stray quite into Lincoln Riley play-calling territory; it did give the already considerable Hannibal ground game an important counterpunch component; one that helped the Pirates average 42 points per contest this Fall, claim a District Title and return to the State Quarterfinals. All of which owes no small debt to the presence of Will Whitaker; the most dangerous team offensive threat on the field for his team this season.

    Whitaker’s production went well beyond just his team leading 30 receptions. Will’s long-established track record for spectacular catches, his strength relative to defensive backs, and his ability to score from anywhere on the field was concern one for every defensive coordinator Hannibal faced. He stretched the field and opened the box, merely by lining up in formation. And when he did get the ball, he confirmed all those concerns. In route to shattering nearly every receiving record in program history, Whitaker notched 741 yards at a spectacular 24.7 yards per catch average. He added more touchdowns as well. More than that, however, Will Whitaker grew as an overall threat; becoming the beating pulse of the Pirates Defense with his relentless pursuit and spicy hitting. He loomed as a massive problem in the return game. And perhaps most importantly, grew as leader by example; maturing into a player whose serious approach finally matched his every serious skills.

    Point blank, Will Whitaker was the best football player on Northeast Missouri’s Best Football Team. Other players may have produced gaudier numbers or more splash highlights. But no one did it against better competition or on bigger stages with less built in positional advantages. Or to greater overall team impact.

    Runner-up: Brock Wood, South Shelby

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    Past Winners:

    2017: Zach Osborn, Monroe City

    2016: Shamar Griffith, Hannibal

    2015: Shamar Griffith, Hannibal

    2014: Adam Holt, Bowling Green

    2013: Caleb Kizer, Palmyra

    2012: Austin Egley, Clark County

    2011: Scott Kroeger, Clopton/Elsberry

    2010: Mark Nemes, Hannibal

    2009: Justin Alderton, Clark County

    2008: Shawn Maloney, Monroe City

    2007: James Hurt, Keokuk

    2006: James Vandenberg, Keokuk

    2005: Josh Roberts, Clark County

    2004: Jared Bichsel, Monroe City

    2003: Aaron Bergeson, Hannibal

    2002: Clint Carroz, Mark Twain

    2001: Wentric Williams, Hannibal

    2000: Will Clayton, Hannibal

    1999: Matt Paris, Monroe City

    1998: Craig Lewis, Keokuk

    1997: Ryan Watson, Monroe City

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    2018 KHQA ILLINOIS DEFENSIVE MVP

    NOAH STROHKIRCH, Central

    RATIONALE: From a stature standpoint, they couldn’t be more opposite.

    The gargantuan Lineman manning the middle in Monroe City. In contrast, the impossibly undersized Linebacker darting everywhere for Camp Point Central.

    Jonathan Saxbury and Noah Strohkirch cut quite a contrasting profile.save for the distinction they share as the two most dominant defensive players in Tri-State Football. Granted they’ve employed different styles to get there. But the two Senior stalwarts set a soaring standard of excellence on their respective side of the river this Fall.

    In the Show-Me State, the 285 pound Saxbury has been a two-way problem since his Sophomore Season. Prior to this season, the lion’s share of his acclaim has come for his work as a Defense caving Center certified by back-to-back All State nods for his work as a Blocker and Monroe City’s State Championship and State Runner-up Trophies the two previous years. In fact, in his three years as a starter, Jonathon has helmed a line that has generated over 15 thousand yards of total offense. This Senior Year evolution of Jonathon Saxbury, however, saw an epic spike in his production and profile on the other side of the ball. He became the single hardest one-on-one blocking assignment in Tri-State Football. And efforts to throw multiple offensive lineman at the problem barely slowed him down. Jonathon finished the year with 69 stops, a robust total for an interior D-Linemen and notched thirteen tackles for loss. He also snared his first career interception and put the sack in Saxbury with four quarterback quashes as well, in route to First Team Class 2 All-State Honors and accord as the Clarence Cannon Conference Player of the Year. His arsenal of immense functional strength, unyielding base, and better than you’d guess agility for his size serving to unnerve and unravel anyone who strayed in his direction.

    Noah Strohkirch, converversly, wasn’t going to scare anyone stepping off the bus. At just 5’8” and 155 pounds, he was as non-descript as they come. Until the football got snapped. And then, he was seemingly everywhere, all at once. A whirling dervish of determination, endlessly revving motor, and compact tackling technique, Noah bagged 272 total tackles over the last two years; top on his team each season. This year, Strohkirch had 164 stops; the most by any Panther since Andrew Shake in 2014. He also posted two sacks , picked off three passes, and recovered a pair of fumbles on his way to Honorable Mention Class 1A All State plaudits. And even within Central’s Linebacker-centric system and rich positional tradition, his coach concedes this kid was something uniquely special.

    Runner Up: Michael Lord, Illini West

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    Past Winners:

    2017: Chase Hartweg, West Hancock

    2016: Deven Smith, Quincy High

    2015: Tyler Strohecker, Winchester West Central

    2014: Andrew Shake, Central

    2013: Andrew Shake, Jared Starman, Michael Johnson, Central

    2012: Brett Taylor, Macomb

    2011: Austin Gooding, Brown County

    2010: Jack Carlisle, Illini West

    2009: Nathan Goudschaal, Brown County

    2008: Zack Burling, Illini West

    2007: Phillip Smith, Quincy Notre Dame

    2006: T.J. Taylor, West Hancock

    2005: Alex Ebbing, Brown County

    2004: Les Hammers, Jacksonville

    2003: Terry Comiskey, Beardstown

    2002: A.J. Huston, West Prairie/LaHarpe

    2001: Blake Bainter, Macomb

    2000: Chris Rogers, Carthage

    1999: Willie Thompson, Carthage

    1998: Luke Wessel, Carthage

    1997: Ryan Cramer, West Prairie/LaHarpe

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    2018 MISSOURI/IOWA DEFENSIVE MVP

    JONATHON SAXBURY, Monroe City

    RATIONALE: From a stature standpoint, they couldn’t be more opposite.

    The gargantuan Lineman manning the middle in Monroe City. In contrast, the impossibly undersized Linebacker darting everywhere for Camp Point Central.

    Jonathan Saxbury and Noah Strohkirch cut quite a contrasting profile.save for the distinction they share as the two most dominant defensive players in Tri-State Football. Granted they’ve employed different styles to get there. But the two Senior stalwarts set a soaring standard of excellence on their respective side of the river this Fall.

    In the Show-Me State, the 285 pound Saxbury has been a two-way problem since his Sophomore Season. Prior to this season, the lion’s share of his acclaim has come for his work as a Defense caving Center certified by back-to-back All State nods for his work as a Blocker and Monroe City’s State Championship and State Runner-up Trophies the two previous years. In fact, in his three years as a starter, Jonathon has helmed a line that has generated over 15 thousand yards of total offense. This Senior Year evolution of Jonathon Saxbury, however, saw an epic spike in his production and profile on the other side of the ball. He became the single hardest one-on-one blocking assignment in Tri-State Football. And efforts to throw multiple offensive lineman at the problem barely slowed him down. Jonathon finished the year with 69 stops, a robust total for an interior D-Linemen and notched thirteen tackles for loss. He also snared his first career interception and put the sack in Saxbury with four quarterback quashes as well, in route to First Team Class 2 All-State Honors and accord as the Clarence Cannon Conference Player of the Year. His arsenal of immense functional strength, unyielding base, and better than you’d guess agility for his size serving to unnerve and unravel anyone who strayed in his direction.

    Noah Strohkirch, converversly, wasn’t going to scare anyone stepping off the bus. At just 5’8” and 155 pounds, he was as non-descript as they come. Until the football got snapped. And then, he was seemingly everywhere, all at once. A whirling dervish of determination, endlessly revving motor, and compact tackling technique, Noah bagged 272 total tackles over the last two years; top on his team each season. This year, Strohkirch had 164 stops; the most by any Panther since Andrew Shake in 2014. He also posted two sacks , picked off three passes, and recovered a pair of fumbles on his way to Honorable Mention Class 1A All State plaudits. And even within Central’s Linebacker-centric system and rich positional tradition, his coach concedes this kid was something uniquely special.

    Runner Up: Dante Reading, Hannibal

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    Past Winners:

    2017: Cole Pennewell, Monroe City

    2016: Sam Hasekamp, Centralia

    2015: Jerry McBride, Hannibal

    2014: Jerry McBride, Hannibal

    2013: Josh Hultz, Palmyra

    2012: Caleb Bieniek, Hannibal

    2011: Caleb Bieniek, Hannibal

    2010: Matt Brown, Bowling Green

    2009: Geoff Correnti, Bowling Green

    2008: Bryce Johnston, South Shelby

    2007: Javis Vineyard, Clark County

    2006: Luke O'Laughlin, South Shelby

    2005: Andrew Bergeson, Hannibal

    2004: Sean Kite, Clark County

    2003: Alphonse Dames, Palmyra

    2002: James Branch, Hannibal

    2001: Keith Painter, Monroe City

    2000: Derek Wallace, Mark Twain

    1999: Jonathan Simpson, Hannibal

    1998: Derek Minter, Monroe City

    1997: Adam Crowe, Monroe City

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    2018 KHQA BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR (as voted by you at KHQA.com)

    TRISTAN BROCKSIECK, LB/TE, Camp Point Central

    RATIONALE: A landslide winner with over 30% of the vote in our Viewer Poll. Which is actually a godsend for me because I spent the last few weeks debating where to position the guy on our Do or Die Team. Was he the best Tight End in Tri-State Football; an invaluable blocker who finally got to strut his stuff as a hidden weapon receiving threat in the blowout quarterfinal win over Triopia. Or was he the catalyzing agent on the Panthers calling card Defense as a Strong Side Linebacker who destroyed everything (103 tackles, 11 TFL, 2 Interceptions) that crossed his path. Here we don’t have to decide. We just say enjoy Tristan’s resonant impact. Here’s the most impressive visual cue on Brocksieck: he seemed to play as the fastest agent on a defense full of extremely fast guys. I am not saying Tristan beats Cole Williams or Brandon Rossmiller in a foot race. I am simply saying that if the race is too a hittable target, I am not betting on anyone beating Brocksieck to contact. Moreover, his tackling technique, especially against bigger opponents, is really tremendous. Tristan has a great knack for getting into guys legs and bulldogging even the strongest runners to the ground with more force than you would expect from a guy with such a lithe, lean frame. But somehow, Tristan generates a lot more finishing power than you think. He’s also really a heady player in the way he seems to know exactly how to attack running backs. There’s no real quantifiable measure of this, especially for a guy who saw just 12 catches (199 yards and one touchdowns’ worth of production) but I thought on those rare instances where Brocksieck was targeted as a receiving threat, he showed outlier concentration in securing the football. Look, I gave you a really good list of potential candidates here. I think you picked extremely well in honoring a young man who was surprisingly instrumental in fashioning the finest season in Panther History.

    Past Winners:

    2017: Gabe Goodwin, Palmyra

    2016: Pasqual Guilovogui, Beardstown

    2015: Cory Miller, Unity/Payson

    2014: Sidney Wear, South Shelby

    2013: Alger Saldana, Central-Southeastern

    2012: Douglas Weese, Central-Southeastern

    2011: Clay Finklea, Quincy High

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    2018 LINEMAN OF THE YEAR

    JONNY BOTTORFF, Quincy Notre Dame

    RATIONALE: I will wholly concede you Quincy Notre Dame’s team struggles this team. But good luck placing any of that at Jonny Bottorff’s doorstep. Even in a year in which there was really decent balance and depth in Tri-State Offensive Line Play, I thought there was a clear “elite” tier of blockers in our area that comprised of Bottorff, Jonathon Saxbury, and Macon’s incredibly improved Caden Phillips. Sorting those three proved easier than I thought. Saxbury was a slam dunk choice for Missouri Defensive MVP and honoring him there allowed us to tell a different story for his this Fall. Phillips, who has a chance to spike at a Gooey Megginson-type level with continued work and ascent given his size, outlier wingspan, and promising pass-pro potential, isn’t yet a finished or totally polished product. While Bottorff’s resume included a seamless position change to Center, an uncommon diligence to improving his craft by every avenue afforded him, some of the most dexterous feet we’ve seen on a big man (thanks in no small measure to all that time spent on a basketball court) and I’d argue the highest “on-field” blocking IQ we’ve seen in a long time. For all of his physical tools and ability, Jonny thinks the game better than anyone else. Which no doubt heightens his ability to get downhill on people with greater ease. Jack Cornell deserves a ton of credit here for chiseling the kid’s technique to a level where I think Jonny is going to be able to defeat stronger, bigger opponents at the next level because he’s rarely going to get off balance or give opponents much to exploit against him one-on-one. Here’s my bigger contention on Jonny, however. He’s built differently. He’s not “prototype” or “textbook” in his physical profile, which is why his recruitment has been such a long, weird dance. The thing is, in point of fact, that Jonny knows his own body and those supposed “design flaws” that put off Division One Recruiters are things that in actuality heighten his productivity. In short, he uses his own tools to their best advantage. Is he more barrel-chested than lean and long? Sure. But the amount of pop he can generate is also very focused because of the way he is built. If you look at the kid as future Center or Guard, and not a more recruiting-coveted tackle; it becomes so much easier to accept what he is and what he can do. All Offensive Line recruits are risks adjusting to the next level. But give me the “risk” here who is uber-smart, driven beyond belief to excel, lives in the weight room, and has deft enough feet to drop step out of a double team in the low blocks on the hardwood and I think I would take my chances on a Jonny Bottorff out-performing expectation relative to a guy who may better look the part on paper. The QND All Stater is an absolute gem of a young man. And as of this morning, Missouri Western is the big winner for landing this sensational talent.

    Past Winners:

    2017: Jon Saxbury, Monroe City

    2016: Joshua Underhill, Monroe City

    2015: Taron Finnigan, Mark Twain Tigers

    2014: Gabe Megginson, Jacksonville

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    2018 KHQA ALL DO OR DIE FOOTBALL TEAM

    QUARTERBACK

    First Team Selections

    GABE WORTHINGTON, Hannibal

    THE SKINNY: This nod is reflective of growth as much as it is raw talent. The Gabe Worthington we saw in 2018 was demonstrably better in every way than his Junior Year incarnation. And that’s actually not a slight on his 2017 play. Gabe just matured so much in the way he wore the mantle of leadership, read the field, slowed the game down that he evolved into the two-way Quarterback standard in Tri-State Football this Fall. The numbers are impressive and all on their own merit. Watching Gabe actually marshal his team, however, was where the real read on his skill begins. His ability to judge the option; when to give, when to pull the ball is on-par with some of the best Wing-T kids we saw in the Carthage/Northwestern LaHarpe dynasty days. His actually production when calling his own number, however, was robust by any standard. Worthington finished with 638 ground yards and 11 touchdowns. But I think that is really the lesser value to what we are discussing here. Gabe’s personal threat level combined with his instincts made stars of running backs no one had really ever heard of prior to this season. Damian French came from completely off radar to rush for nearly 1400 yards and 21 touchdowns. Daylon Reading was an unknown commodity to nearly everyone in early August. That those guys became stars is a credit to Worthington knowing how and when to feed them as well. Moreover, Worthington’s ability to distribute in the passing game sharpened the edge on the offense as a whole. The Pirates milked nearly 1700 passing yards and 13 touchdowns out of Gabe’s arm, forcing teams into the rare mindset of having to be more afraid of Hannibal’s incredible receivers than their calling card running backs. For a guy who loved to move out of the pocket and throw on the run, Worthington’s 55% completion mark and paltry 6 interceptions (in 136 attempts) were field changers. Moreover, he shattered Roger Walton’s career Pirate passing mark along the way; demonstrating his wonderful progression delivering the football. When you force defenses to rethink who your entire Offense is, that’s quite the feather in your hat. And Gabe Worthington’s hard work accomplished exactly that feat. He earned First Team All NCMC Honors and First Team All-Area honors from the Quincy Herald Whig along the way. Hard to argue with any of that. There simply wasn’t a quarterback in Tri-State Football who offered up more quantifiable and esoteric evidence of his individual resonance to his team in our area. Kid had a heck of a year.

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    WILL FROMM, Scotland County

    THE SKINNY: Your two-time Lewis and Clark Conference Offensive Player of the Year proved a force of nature in Memphis and firmly established himself as one of our favorite watches. The Tiger signal caller posted impressive enough stats in his Senior Swan Song; even if his passing heroics took a hit from Scotland County being the most strangely snake-bitten by weather team in Tri-State Football. Will amassed some 2559 total yards this season and produced 34 total touchdowns, 23 through the air. Blessed with a huge arm and easy release, Fromm zinged the ball around the field for 1871 passing yards on 49% proficiency in route to fashioning a tidy 110 QB ranking. But that is merely the spread sheet read on the kid. Will commanded the pocket as confidently (as in a manner that was as confidence-inspiring) as any Quarterback in our region. Tremendous intelligence, Middle Linebacker Size, and a Ben Rothlisberger-esque mobility/escape instinct for the position all played a part in creating his dynamic profile at the helm. Some credit here also goes to Offensive Coordinator Kyle Ellison and trust level he and his quarterback fashioned in plotting the offense. Having Will on the field the last two years (beyond the obvious “air raid” benefit supply by his powerful arm) also gave Scotland the equivalent of a second Fullback to employ in the offense. We don’t often apply the adjective “imposing” to QB’s but Will’s size and ability to generate power quickly, as well as his willingness to run over Linebackers without hesitation, made him exactly that; a 688 yard rusher for the season who averaged nearly six yards an attempt. He also posted 72 tackles on defense and seemingly never came off the field. That speaks volumes about his desire and volition. Honor roll student and terrific all-around young man hampered only by his unfortunate college basketball fandom (DUDE, YOU ARE FROM MISSOURI) who has been an absolute treat to cover in three sports.

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    Second Team Selections

    ERIC JONES, Central

    WHY HE’S HERE: The best spread offense quarterback incongruently shackled to a Wing-T squad since Michael Lafferty’s Illini West days. All Eric Jones did was fuse a legitimate (and legitimately frightening) pass component onto one of the region’s most decidedly run-oriented and running back rich programsand ho hum, led said squad to its first ever State Championship Game Performance. He ticks all the boxes here with that cannon arm of his. Nearly 58% accuracy and 3 to 1 TD to Interception ratio (15 to 6) in route to 1157 passing yards on a paltry 102 attempts. He attempted nearly 80 fewer passes than the top tier of prolific throwers in the Tri-States this season and still put up both tangible and Per Metrics that rivaled all of them. Don’t forget about the Linebacker level of toughness he brought to the table; see also his unreal two-point conversion run in the post season where he literally got hit by a defensive linemen four yards deep in the backfield; threw the kid off him, and trotted into the end zone anyway. First Team WIVC North Pick and an invaluable piece of the puzzle for the Tri-State’s most successful team this Fall.

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    NASH WALLER, QB, Macon

    WHY HE’S HERE: How does one argue with 2136 yards of total offense and 30 combined touchdowns? Macon’s offensive maestro was a problem for Northeast Missouri Defenses, putting the triple in triple threat. Waller’s continued ascent as a thrower was reflected in his tidier decision making; five fewer Interceptions in his Senior Season despite more passing attempts. Those numbers are golden, by the way. Nash finished with 1427 yards through the air, 20 touchdowns, and just eight interceptions on 56% efficiency. He also ran for a career best 700 yards and 20 touchdowns. First Team All Cannon Conference Honoree with arguably the best college recruiting credentials on this list.

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    Rating the Rest

    1)BLAKE HAYS, Monroe City

    2)CARTER BOYER, Illini West

    3)VJ LANE, Macomb

    4)LENNON BARKER, Fort Madison

    5)AUSTIN CALLAHAN, Bowling Green

    6)DAYTON METTES, North Shelby

    7)IKE WILEY, QND

    8)JARED PLUNK, Routt

    9)DONOVAN PROST, Quincy High

    10)SHAWN BELL, Triopia

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    RUNNING BACKS

    First Team Selections

    THE SKINNY:

    COLE WILLIAMS, RB, Central

    THE SKINNY: The first two-time IHSFCA All-State Selection in program history and deservedly so. He might be the most productive “low usage” feature back this area has seen since Wyatt Green’s heyday in Carthage. The collective nature of Central’s offense is such that Cole Williams received just 162 total carries this Fall. Contrast that number with the other elite backs on this list. Obviously, that’s a credit to the depth of talent in the Panthers backfield stable, but I’d argue as well that Casey Rhea smartly employed the kid to keep tread on his tires as a pivotal defensive backs as well; one of the few two-platoon guys in the mix for Camp Point this Fall. Still, the Offensive Production was field tilting for Central. Cole averaged better than eight yards per carry and 19 yards per catch; a telling sign of his electric ability to quicken the tempo on the field. Cole finished 1280 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground, while adding another 350 receiving yards and seven scores through the air. He also had that game altering touchdown return against Triopia in the first meeting of the two teams that essentially served as the biggest individual haymaker any kid delivered to any team this year. It’s hard not to love the guy’s versatility. He’s one of those rare runners who seems to get faster and faster with every single step he takes and his pass catching ability as a receiver might rank with anyone in the Tri-States not named Will Whitaker. He also had 65 tackles and an interception on the other side of the ball; giving him the broadest reach on the best team in Tri-State Football this Fall. That’s incredibly telling. Again, Central has had some unbelievable backs roll through during the Reed/Dixon Renaissance Era and I’d have to have to try and rank these guys relative to one another. But there’s no question that Cole Williams has carved out a place of honor for himself in that elite company over these last two seasons.

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    DYLAN MARSHALL, RB, Routt Catholic

    THE SKINNY: After sitting out his Junior Season to recover from a broken ankle suffered on the hardwoods, Dylan Marshall became the offensive scale-balancer Barry Creviston relied upon to return the long suffering Rockets to playoff prominence. Marshall’s instant emergence grafted a near 1500 yard rushing presence onto a team that was expected preseason to largely rise and fall on the strength of Jared Plunk’s arm. A nice mix of explosive and gritty, Marshall was the kind of runner who made gobbling up yards look almost effortlessright until he opted to drop the shoulder and finish off Linebackers who sought to finish him. The Honorable Mention 2A All Stater might have been as good off contact as any Tailback in our region; maybe surprisingly so given that Dylan doesn’t really look all that physically imposing given his almost receiver-like physical profile. But he runs with a lot of fight in him and I was constantly impressed with his ability to grab that extra yard in scenarios where other backs might have been willing to go to the turf and try again on the next run. Maybe the best word here is dogged. Dylan Marshall scraps for everything, on both sides of the ball; even as his fluidity makes it look maybe too easy. He finished with 107 tackles and two interceptions as well on defense to underscore his unique physicality as a player. He tallied 1457 rushing yards and 18 total touchdowns; easily the most pleasant impact surprise among Western Illinois Running Backs this year. Without him, there’s no way Routt would have ended their playoff drought. That’s legacy stuff.

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    ZACH OSBORN, RB, Monroe City

    THE SKINNY: He has been the premier catalyzing agent, on one of the premier offenses in Tri-State Football for three years running. Every Defensive Coordinator who played against Monroe City specifically schemed for Zach Osborn. Precious few of them put a dent in his production. There is just a different level of metahuman explosion there; one that made Zach a threat to reach the end zone every single time he touched the football; from anywhere on the field. He finished his Senior Season averaging 10.6 yards per carry in route to 1203 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. He only carried the ball 110 total times but still, for his size and frame, Zach was a remarkably durable and a tough pound for pound runner on those rare occasions that he did get hemmed in. See also the power of his volition on the game winning play against Helias, when Zach essentially had to turn himself into a glorified, 140 pound Fullback to win one at the buzzer for his team. More practically, however, his ability to make precise cuts in real time and the warp speed to do it before defenders knew he was doing it made Zach Osborn the most dangerous “in space” threat in Northeast Missouri. I watched his 97 yard run against Clark County in the regular season from the back of the end zone and that specific angle spoke to his incredible vision. He was also a very utile receiving threat (three touchdowns in just eight receptions) and game-breaking return threat as well as a productive Defensive Back who posted 46 tackles on the year. Super fun football watch. Tremendous student athlete. State Champion. All-Stater. Former KHQA Offensive Player of the Year. All the adjectives and accolades barely do him justice. There is a place of real honor for Zach Osborn in the rich history of Monroe City Football; and it’s a very high one. That should tell you everything you need to know about this incredibly special and singular football talent.

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    BRYCE WILSON, FB, West Hancock

    THE SKINNY: There might not have been a more talent-laden spot in Tri-State Football this Fall than Fullback, with a three state windfall of power backs arising for legitimate consideration here. That Bryce Wilson was able to hold off a dozen of his positional ilk to earn his second straight, despite the bull’s eye on his back and the huge graduation hits the Titans took from last year to this is in the trenches is a real credit to the young man’s fortitude and determination. By just about any metric, you won’t find a stronger young man in Tri-State Football this season; an asset hewn of yes, some natural genetic gifts in terms of quick-twitch muscle fiber and recovery ability; but also fairly that has arisen from an insatiable weight room ethic. When an 18 year old kid can rep 225 pounds in the bench press at the same rate of most elite NFL Draft prospectsthat is a pretty rare feat. Couple that with surprising burst for a guy (how do I put this diplomatically) with something less than average leg length and you have, as we asserted here last year, the football equivalent of a Bowling Ball strapped to a rocket engine. As such, Bryce pinballed his way to 1331 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns and in so doing, set new program high water marks for career rushing/scoring by a Running Back with 51 total end zone visits and better than 3500 total ground yards (3502 to be exact) That is a beastly career by a helluva kid. Here’s hoping some creative college coach will look beyond the standard issue recruiting norms and take a chance on this unique package of attributes. You can’t quantitate heart, desire, and fearlessness; because Bryce Wilson possesses all of those attributes at Blue Chip level in his Football DNA. And the guy that rolls the dice and bets hard on those qualities stands to win as big with this kid as Travis Cook did.

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    NICK VORHIES, FB, Illini West

    THE SKINNY: Is there a greater testament on this list to the resonant value of the weight room than this guy? Illini West’s now 215 pound yet still-Sophomore-Year level quick Fullback was some kind of a thing this Fall. Better than anyone on this list; maybe better than anyone in a while, Nick Vorhies ran the football this season like he felt he was bulletproof. The confidence with which he attacked running lanes and would be tacklers was special. Nick has always been a particularly smart and athletic fit for the position. He just was never this flat out nasty before. It goes well beyond just stats, which I will point out where terrific by any measure. His 8.3 yards per tote average for a Wing-T Fullback who was getting hit on every single snap, whether he received the hand off or not, is incredible. It netted him 1428 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. Those are All-State type numbers. But they fall incredibly short of revealing Nick’s true value. He was the best Defensive tenderizer in the business. His game tape against Mercer County was pigskin porn; the way he was old-school dropping shoulders on tacklers at every level. Almost running to and through contact it seemed. Hitting Nick Vorhies “high” might have been the greatest fool’s errand in Tri-State Football this season. And the exponentially improved leg strength he crafted with Michael Lafferty’s help in the squat rack/leg sled was no picnic either. He was nothing short of Tom Rathman-esque. And in so saying, I hope this forces a few young people to hit up the Wikipedia and find out exactly what that means. I’ve seen my fair share of Wing-T Fullbacks over the years covering Hancock County and WIVC Football. As long articulated here, it is the most important chess piece on the board for those offenses. So I don’t say this lightly. Senior Year Nick Vorhies might have been the best-fit, post 2012 Wing-T Fullback that has come our way in what he made himself and how it translated on the field for the Chargers.

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    BROCK WOOD, APB, South Shelby

    THE SKINNY: Sure, he played Quarterback. But your Clarence Cannon Conference Offensive Player of the Year manned the position like no signal caller we’ve seen before this. The fastest man in Tri-State Football was essentially employed by Rob Wilt as a Single Wing Facilitator after the Cardinals expected QB opted not to go out for the sport in August. And man did Brock facilitate fun as much as anything in Shelbina this Fall. Look, I won’t sugarcoat this; Brock threw “passes” at times that made Tim Tebow look like Dan Marino by compare. That part of his game was not high elegance, by any means. Still, who the heck cares when a guy runs for 2100 yards, scores 28 touchdowns, and averages nearly eight yards per tote. That, however, was just the raw production of it all. The thing that doesn’t get stated enough here is the intimidation factor that came along with trying to defend this cat; for Defensive Coordinators and would-be tacklers alike. No one wants to look stupid doing what they do. And yet Brock made more smart, good players look dumb in space than anyone this side of Jirehl Brock. It’s kind of like getting dunked on by Zion Williamson. Everyone is going to get beaten once and while. Watching Brock Wood shimmy past you like you are stuck in concrete on film, however, adds a whole different layer to the pigskin pathos of it all. And considering that Brock averaged 180 rushing yards per game, with every eye on the field on him at all times, you can begin to grasp the sheer number of embarrassing career moments Mr Wood engendered. Moreover, I will point out that Brock Wood isn’t exactly possessed of the sturdiest natural build. Rob Wilt ran the guy 286 times this year. And he never wore down or showed any quit. Granted, his speed and shiftiness made it hard for anyone to ever get much a clean lick on him. Still Brock’s pound-for-pound toughness here is worthy of celebration. As is his selflessness in stepping up and learning a new position on the fly because it is what his team needed. Look, I realize Football isn’t even Brock Wood’s best sport. I’d argue he’s a sure fire Division One Track and Field guy today; even if he never ran another high school event. But man was his impact here resonant in elevating a team and program that without him, likely would have slouched towards irrelevance. Which at its crux, is usually the defining characteristics of most MVP and MOP award arguments. Brock Wood was definitely in all of those conversations for us. Just a really unique weapon who maxed out everything he had in the tank every single night.

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    Second Team Selections

    ADONTE CRIDER, RB, Quincy High

    WHY HE’S HERE: Despite sharing a backfield with you-know-who, Adonte Crider’s simmering talent bubbled over nicely with an All Western Big Six nod after amassing 872 rushing yards and 13 touchdownson just 67 carries. Start projecting ahead to what those stats could mean next year with Adonte getting Feature Back touches and it’s easy to see the architecture of a very bright future ahead. Blessed with “right now” burst and great ability to see and set up the field, Adonte deserves great credit this season for maturing into a physically tougher, more determined runner and blocker. For all of the other things Jirehl Brock did amazingly well, his mentorship to and blocking for Mister Crider were invaluable in elevating this young man into one of the brightest rising stars in our area. Adonte will be without that next season but that’s a growth opportunity for a kid who has shown the willingness and adaptability to do just that. He’s already received some Division One recruiting look/sees. Would not be shocked if he is in the POY conversation next Fall either.

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    KEVIN EDWARDS, RB, Macon

    WHY HE’S HERE: His numbers were way down in 2018. And yet, I thought Kevin Edwards was better as a total tailback package. If you want to accuse me of reaching on him here, fine. But eleven hundred total yards, a 103 yards per game average, and nine rushing TD is not a bad comeback to that criticism, either. So call this a career achievement award, if it makes you happier. Kevin was a nifty slasher who gives you a little bit of everything, including utility in the receiving game (under-utilized) and improved blocking ability. Ran with a natural ability to read the field with his feet, change speed and direction to hunt yards as the situation dictated. There was a lot of fight in his 170 pound frame. First Team All Cannon Conference Selection who finished a stellar career with 3034 total ground yards and 30 touchdowns. History will treat him well in Macon annals.

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    CALEB LAPSLEY, RB, Clark County

    WHY HE’S HERE: It was a weird, injury-addled Junior season for the Clark County speed merchant. Despite missed time and missed opportunity, Caleb still generated 1073 yards (at a seven yards per carry average) and a dozen rushing touchdowns. The Indians are clearly better, on both sides of the ball, when Caleb is in the equation and that speaks to his burst and sideline-to-sideline in a blink tackling range as a Linebacker. I thought Mister Lapsley really showed heightened ability as a pass catcher in his Junior Year and his job duties are likely to broaden in 2019; perhaps even as a hybrid Quarterback of sorts given some of the snaps he’s taken. If he can stay healthy, Caleb Lapsley is my preseason favorite for POY honors as a Senior. He is an incredible two-way talent and one of the most innately athletic kids to come our way in Northeast Missouri in some time.

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    KEENAN BATSELL, FB, Monroe City

    WHY HE’S HERE: For a guy tasked with replacing the best pure football player on a State Championship team, Keenan Batsell showed immensely broad shoulders in his Junior campaign. His efforts at Jefferson City Helias and against Clark County in the regular season may been the top two individual Fullback performances we saw this year. (As previously established, it was by far the best stocked positional talent pool in Tri-State Football his Fall. So chew on that little revelation for a second) We were only half-jokingly referring to the kid as Keenan “Battering Ram” in the wake of those star-making performances. One of just four players in our region to exceed 1500 rushing yards, Batsell melded field-flipping run-away speed with one of the stoutest profiles in recent memory. Whereas a guy like Nick Vorhies was the standard bearer for delivering physicality for a running back, Keenan was the gold standard for absorbing it. Credit both psychological determination and a running profile that gives tacklers nothing to hit but shoulder and thigh pads for making Batsell nearly impossible to knock of his chose running path. He was the subject of much inhouse debate in our Sports Department. He’s a decidedly straight-line runner. And yet, no one could remotely seem to knock him off that line. Heck, I got bruises on my shoulders just calling his highlight clips. This young lion is of immense heart.

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    DAMIAN FRENCH, FB, Hannibal

    WHY HE’S HERE: For a kid who was supposedly a year away from being a serious impact piece at the varsity level, twenty-one rushing touchdowns is a helluva boon. Thinking back, Mark St Clair may have actually tipped me off to Damian’s potential usage this Summer. On first glance, I thought he might be a Tight End or Defensive End-type at 6’2” and 190 pounds. When I asked about him, Mark gave me one of those looks he gets sometimes; almost sheepishly as if you just caught his hand in the cookie jar and he conceded that he is a track kid and he can play. French offered us a very different Fullback profile; a long strider in a world of choppy feet guys who seemingly effortlessly explodes through seams in a defense; gliding by defenders who look as if they should be able to catch him and can’t. Just a super unique piece who netted the Pirates nearly 1400 ground yards. Damian’s ceiling the next two years is nosebleed inducing.

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    MASON UHLMEYER, APB, North Shelby

    WHY HE’S HERE: The first real star of North Shelby’s Eight Man Era and a true pioneer in putting the Raiders back on a successful football trajectory. Mason Uhlmeyer produced 1024 yards of total offense, 17 touchdowns, and 122 total points as a Senior. He averaged nearly nine yards per carry this season in route to 843 rushing yards. While that stat might not be as head-turning as you would suspect, realize that it was Mason’s presence that allowed Seth Bass to balance the offense and grow other assets in the process. Big fish/small pond? Sure. But watch Mason Uhlmeyer play football for even a few snaps and it becomes readily apparent he would have been a valued contributor at any school in our area; versatile enough to play a half dozen positions at a very high level.

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    Third Team Selections

    KODIAK ROGERS, RB, Pleasant Hill/Western

    DAYLAN READING, RB, Hannibal

    ANDREW KAUFFMAN, RB, West Central

    MANNY GARCIA, RB, Rushville/Industry

    JAYDEN PAYNE, FB, Scotland County

    JACE BARTON, FB, Mark Twain

    CHANCE NEWTON, APB, Highland

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    TIGHT END/WIDE RECEIVER

    First Team Selections

    PASCAL GUILAVOGUI, WR, Beardstown

    THE SKINNY: With Jirehl Brock off to Ames next Fall, meet your odds-on preseason favorite for 2019 Player of the Year honors. Beardstown’s finest multi-tasker earned First Team 3A All State Honors on the merits of perhaps the most eclectic football resume in the State. Pascal Guilavogui defies easy positional description. His job descriptions include, but weren’t limited to Leading Rusher, Wildcat Quarterback, Wide Receiver, Linebacker-come-Rover-slash Defensive Back, Return Specialist and difference making kicker who converted 40 of 42 PAT attempts as well as his only Field Goal try of the year. In short, Pascal brings an awful lot to the table. His mix of speed, size, and explosion netted 1401 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground, to the tune of better than 12 yards per carry on average. Eight of his 14 receptions generated touchdowns. Not for nothing, Pascal was also 10 of 16 passing for 122 yards and two touchdowns when the Wildcat gotwellwilder with him operating as a thrower. On balance then, Pascal had 29 touchdowns in all, not to mention another 40 PAT and that 30 yard Field Goal. That’s 205 total points scored on the seasonfrom one dude. He also added 30 total tackles and a team leading three interceptions to the mix as well. Guilavogui cut a very wide swath. The college recruiting game is starting to heat up; see also his unofficial visit to Iowa and it’s easy to see why. He offers up the Tri-State’s best collection of outlier athletic attributes for the Receiving Position since Jerrell Humphrey’s heyday at Highland. He’s also been supremely, almost unfairly skilled. I give Pascal a ton of credit though as a Junior for making himself a better, mentally tougher football player overall. That’s maturity and he wore it well in 2018. I honestly can’t wait to see what his Senior Year evolution looks like and if Pascal can be the straw that stirs the drink in getting Beardstown over the top for a win or five in the 3A Playoff Pool. That would be the ultimate punctuation to an unreal personal resume.

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    MATTHEW WOODS, WR, Scotland County

    THE SKINNY: While Pascal Guilavogui is his own unique and distinct football animal, Matthew Woods reigns for my money as the best conventional Number One Receiving Option in Tri-State. You can have the Angus Young “who made who” argument about the MBCA All Stater Woods and his stellar Quarterback Will Fromm; I tend to view it through the prism of football symbiosis; that this pairing for the Tigers was a timing godsend. Here’s the thing with Matthew Woods. You just throw out the measurable. He’s not the biggest, fastest, or flashiest Wide Receiver on the planet. But the dude knows how to go get the football and he does it as well as anyone. He netted 30 receptions this season for 752 yards and 11 touchdowns; numbers I would argue are depressed by the Tigers freakish catches of bad weather games. What does that tell you? If you want to ask me about Matthew’s outlier skills, I’d tell you he finds space as well as anyone. Some guys do that through freak athleticism or dumb luck. Matthew does it through calculation, field IQ, and crafted quickness. He knows when to use his speed as deftly as anyone. He accelerates out of a catch and away from contact organically. In that respect, he’s a very seamless pass catcher. Will Fromm seemed to know at all times exactly where Woods needed to be. And Matthew Woods knew exactly what he needed to do to get there. He was like a poker player setting traps for Defensive Backs. He’s gotten big enough and strong enough to excel in shielding the ball away from DB’s and that makes him a Quarterback’s best friend in eliminating turnover possibilities. Woods had 17 catches this year that netted 20 yards or more. Matthew also has incredible field vision after the catch and that made him a super fun and highly valued quick slant option to help open things up for Jayden Payne and the run game when opponents tried to pack the box. Maybe it’s an imagined thing on my part as well, but Matthew Woods also seemed to be one of the fastest runners on bad surfaces I can remember. He seemed weirdly immune to “bad footing nights” and if you watch him on tape make coverage guys look sloth-like, you can understand why his value here was so great. First Team All Lewis & Clark All Conference Pick who also helped out big on defense with 42 tackles and a team high three interceptions.

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    DEREK RICHARDS, WR, Louisiana

    THE SKINNY: This is why I take the task of seeing every team in our area, in person, as much as humanly possible so seriously. To ensure that incredibly deserving guys like Derek Richards don’t fall through the cracks and get left off our Football honors team. The Louisiana Senior played just one season of football, for a team that has no All-Conference honors to derive as it exists for two years in post-CCC/pre-EMO limbo; and for a program mired in the ugliest patch of futility this area has seen since the dread “Streak” in Shelbyville. In so doing, Richards voluntarily puts his terrific high school basketball career in harm’s way not once; but twice after opting to return from a two-game knee injury (rather than save himself for the Winter Roundball campaign having been diagnosed with a slight patellar tendon tear at the time) because he could not stomach the idea of letting his school and his teammates down. And what happens when Derek does comeback? He plays a gigantic role in helping the Bulldogs snap a 45 game losing streak with star turns in back-to-back victories over both Metro East Lutheran and Paris. A pair of wins mind you that breathe some degree of rare optimism for the region’s most moribund program. And for a kid with so little practical gridiron experience, Derek was luminous. He scored ten total touchdowns in just eight games. Joe Calhoun’s ability to move Derek around the offense from Quarterback to Running Back to Wide Receiver in an effort confound defenses netted him 770 total yards. That he was able to carve out 323 receiving yards in an offense that was decidedly ground-oriented is a credit to just how strongly his coaching staff felt the need to put the ball in his hands. Had Derek Richards played at a better heeled football program like Hannibal, he would have enjoyed Dezi Jones-type media acclaim. In Football Forgotonia, his contributions went almost unnoticed. Operative word: almost. I saw the dude catch passes with my own eyes, in person, against both Mark Twain and Metro East/Lutheran and he was as legit as anyone. Incredible young man and honor roll student who brought fun and hope back to Bulldog Football with his efforts; a resonant effect that might actually jump start the Bulldogs climb back to respectability for all the young kids who saw Richards infuse fun and magic back where there once was none. Given that impact, I can’t name you a more deserving kid of First Team Receiving Honors on this list.

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    DJ MCWILLIAMS, WR, Beardstown

    THE SKINNY: Ordinarily, we are a bit loath to include two players from the same team in one First Team Selection group on our honor squad because it raises eyebrows as to the appearance of fairness, or political correctness, or whatever CYA label you want to apply to it. It’s just kind of a weird reality of doing this and trying to be representative. But too bad here. I am speaking nothing but truth in saying the Beardstown had two of the top five Wide Receivers in Tri-State Football this year and if that in some way offends you, either stop reading here now or go help your local high school cultivate better pass catchers. Not my fault or my problem if you don’t like the reality of the situation. DJ McWilliams was a game-twisting talent. His 35 receptions was the third highest workload in the area, trailing only throw-happy Macomb’s Evis Campbell and John Ogle in Tri-State Football for teams that played 10 or fewer games. DJ generated 622 total receiving yards; which was top five in our area statistically. And his 17.7 yards per catch average speaks ot McWilliams explosiveness after the catch. He netted a half dozen touchdowns, which is pretty darned good by any measure. But I’d argue it’s actually a more impressive figure when you consider that DJ was really the Tigers third most viable Offensive Option behind Grimm and Guilavogui on the scoring tree. Weird as it may sound, there’s a legit argument that could be levied here that McWilliams was Beardstown’s best two-way football player because his cover ability in the Defensive Backfield was so sound. Three interceptions this year before teams finally got wise and stopped throwing the ball his way. However you slice it, DJ McWilliams had a terrific year for the Tigers and feels like an indisputable First Teamer Somewhere. I just chose to put him here because I love the way our Receiving Arsenal profiles with him in it.

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    EVIS CAMPBELL, WR, Macomb

    THE SKINNY: The 2021 graduating vintage of Tri-State Wide Receivers is threatening to earn Grand Cru Football status. Evis Campbell is the “everything bagel” of pass catchers in that Sophomore Class; a young man with incredibility versatility as both a possession and stretch-the-field guys who can hurt opponents off short slants, intermediate sit-down routes, or over the top with equal and beguiling aplomb. To me the most noticeable thing about Evis is just how suddenly he gets to top speed after gathering in the catch; his first step after a reception being the gridiron equivalent of Marvin Bagley’s second jump. Not to mention his strength and durability, which are those of a kid with a Middle Linebacker’s heart; not a Sophomore Wide Receiver. He makes it real easy to argue that an Evis Campbell quick slant is a better offense gamble than most team’s bread and butter run game. Kid wore that area best 51 catch workload like fine jewelry. And his 615 yards and 5 touchdown receptions are eye-popping numbers at any age for a high school receiver. The whole VJ Lane/Evis Campbell breakout narrative this Fall, even amid a 2-7 season, feels like a step closer to Tony Westen wants this Bomber Program to be.

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    TREVOR ANTHONY, TE Clopton/Elsberry

    THE SKINNY: Outside of Jirehl Brock and Johnny Bottorff, I’d posit that Clopton/Elsberry Tight End/Linebacker Trevor Anthony is the most intriguing College Prospect in the Tri-State Football Class of 2019. He is a 6’4” 225 pound monster with immense functional strength, an obscene catch radius, and a jarring amount of speed and athleticism. His HUDL clips are pigskin porn. Pick six interceptions because Quarterbacks simply could not throw over him at Middle Linebacker. One handed catches with a cast on his dominant arm. Crushing physicality as one of the best blocking tight ends to cross our radar in years. And the just incongruent sight of a man of his size sprinting away from Defensive Backs like they were small children in amassing huge YAC totals. He lined up as a true Tight End, a Slot Receiver, and even the Over the Top stretch the field threat for Ben Burnett this season and was effect in all three guises. All I could think in watching him play this year (twice in person) was “give that kid to Mark Grounds” because Trevor would have been the perfect heir apparent to Jacksonville’s Blake Hance/Dalton Keene big receiver pedigree. Dare I say that Trevor was noticeably faster with his straight line speed then either. I know 90% of the folks reading this didn’t see Trevor Anthony play. Just trust me on this: the guy was some kind of individual force of nature football talent.

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    Second Team Picks

    GRANT HYER, WR, QND

    WHY HE’S HERE: Those uber-bouncy, elegant route running Hyer Wide Receiver genetics remain undefeated. In truth, Grant might have more natural explosion in his makeup than his big brother Reed; but the QND Sophomore (nor very few other human beings on the planet) isn’t yet on the Elder Hyer Brother’s level with hand-eye coordination and laser focused catch concentration. That said, Grant Hyer is his own unique pass-catching animal and one with substantial merit moving forward. He’s already a two year starter for the Raiders. Distances himself from Defensive Backs easier than anyone on this list not named Guilavogui. And already has an outlier “attack approach” for going after the football. His size and bounce make him nearly impossible to check at the high school level. The First Team All WCC Pick came on the heels of 27 catches, 354 yards and 5 touchdowns. And he built upon an already impressive Freshman Year starting at Defensive Back with 42 tackles and 2 Interceptions as well.

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    KADEN ANDERS, WR, Scotland County

    WHY HE’S HERE: The dynamic Sophomore is one of the most positively projectable talents in Tri-State Football; a young man destined to be an Infinity Stone weapon for Troy Carper as early as next fall given the graduation losses set to come. His days as a Wide Receiver are likely coming to an end but what a seismic splash he made here as counterbalance to Matthew Woods; hauling in a team-leading 32 receptions for 621 yards and five touchdowns. He added another half dozen scores running the football. Ultimately, his best value might be as a Strong Safety (40 tackles, 5 TFL this Fall) and return specialist. He offers Scotland a very broad and exciting canvas for the future.

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    DOMINIC FRANTZ, WR, Fort Madison

    WHY HE’S HERE: Best set of hands I saw this season coupled with a tidy Senior campaign made Frantz one of the best sleeper values in Tri-State Football. Dominic came from largely off-radar to impress us with his work during our Barnstorm Visit, a session in which he just kept snaring difficult catch after difficult catch. Clearly, that was no fluke. The 6’1” 185 pounder netted a team high 29 receptions for 362 yards and three touchdowns. Lennon Barker did a credible job spreading the football around in the Hounds system (Fort Madison had five different receivers with 20 or more catches this Fall) so the individual stats here got a bit watered down. But there was no question that Frantz wore the mantle of bankable go-to guy as well as anyone in tight situations.

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    CHRISJEN RIEKEBERG, WR, Macon

    WHY HE’S HERE: The most impressive and productive Ninth Grader in Tri-State Football this Fall. Chrisjen emerged quickly and thrived as Nash Waller’s Number One target; coming from off radar to lead the Tigers with 33 receptions, 532 air yards, and four touchdown grabs. Riekeberg’s “breakthrough” moment is oft-misidentified as his luminous eight catch, 185 yard effort against Clark County. More accurately, Chrisjen really jumped to the fore with a stellar 86 yard, one touchdown night against Moberly a week earlier. He finished his Freshman year with a 16.1 yards per catch average and Second Team All-CCC accord; just one more stellar underclassmen who is going to be a real problem, at whatever position he ultimately winds playing for the next three years.

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    LUKE JANSEN, WR, Unity/Payson

    WHY HE’S HERE: Electrifying speed and uncommon ability to change direction in a blink made Luke Jansen one of the premier slot receivers in Tri-State Football. He might not have been the biggest cat on the field, but his 46 reception body of work speaks to his toughness for his size. The Mustang Senior finished the year with 565 total receiving yards and five touchdowns in route to All WIVC plaudits.

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    LAWSON RICKEY, TE, Hannibal

    WHY HE’S HERE: First Team All NCMC Selection who demonstrated a penchant for making the timely play within Mark St Clair’s offense. Not a conventional proportioned Tight End but Lawson used his body well to shield off defenders when called upon to catch passes. More germanely, his toughness and lower body strength made him a most effective run blocker for Mark St Clair. Rickey doubled as one of the better punters in Tri-State Football too, earning 2nd Team NCMC honors there as well.

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    Third Team

    JAROM ALEXANDER, FLEX, Palmyra

    JOHN OGLE, WR, Macomb

    DALTON ALBERT, WR, Clark County

    JAX HEIL, TE, BWP

    ABE HAERR, TE, Palmyra

    ISAAC SHAW, TE, Pittsfield

    ============================

    OFFENSIVE LINE

    First Team Selections

    ADAM KLEINSCHMIDT, Center, Triopia

    THE SKINNY: Tenacious technician who helmed Triopia’s vastly improved line and cleared the defensive forest for 3644 rushing yards and an Elite Eight Berth this season. First Team All WIVC North pick who never missed a weight room session nor an opportunity to display his in-game fight and savvy. For my money, the single most underrated offensive play in all of Tri-State Football

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    JACKSON POWELL, Center, Palmyra

    THE SKINNY: Unanimous First Team All CCC Pick and two time All-Stater. Maybe the most physical sub-200 pound Linemen we’ve encountered in the last five years. Really good speed and an aggressive nature more than compensated for girth in Jackson’s case. He’s a guy that will get into bigger defenders quickly and just repeatedly chop away at them. No idea what his 40 time is but you watch him run relative to the rest of the field and he’s a guy that seems quicker to where he wants to go than most Linebackers. Palmyra’s line had it’s share of ups and downs this Fall but man, you’d be hard pressed to find much to quibble with in Jackson Powell’s effort or production

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    KYLE GOLBRICHT, Central, Clark County

    THE SKINNY: Class 2 Third 2 All State honoree who can snap the football, fire into a defender, and stand said target straight up as quickly and effectively as any Center we’ve seen. Kyle’s first step (again while firing the ball back to his quarterback) is as one-piece and sudden at 275 pounds as you will see. Moreover, when Kyle gets his hands into you as defender, you are sunk. Ridiculous close in strength and a supreme understanding of how to use it. I love the way this kid runs his feet and takes extreme pride in driving his defender as far down the field as he can; owning his man and letting everyone on the field know it. Linemen who play with that kind of chip on their shoulder are my favorite.

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    CHASE KIRBY, Guard, Hannibal

    THE SKINNY: The 6’4” 240 pounder has been an All-Conference level performer since his Sophomore Season. And as a Senior, Chase earned Second Team All-State recognition from the Missouri Coaches Association for his competitive fight and nearly unmatched ability to create leverage for himself against Defenders of all shapes and sizes. More than just a great blocker, Chase Kirby is an awesome locker room guy to have on your team with his disposition, his on-field intelligence, and his selflessness.

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    CADEN PHILLIPS, Guard, Macon

    THE SKINNY: Of all my favorite things to happen in 2018 Football, Caden Phillips developing a mean streak might be at the top of the list. There are few greater joys than watching Macon’s 6’7” 310 pound monster pull and maul whatever unfortunate human happens to be between him and cleared space for his running back. It’s the football equivalent of watching YouTube videos of locomotive collisions. Your Class 2 First Team All Stater is just a giant human being beginning to fully fathom just how powerful he is. He will be strongly considered for KHQA Preseason Player of the Year in 2019. And he’s just scratching the surface.

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    A.J. MILLER, Guard, Quincy High

    THE SKINNY: Big #70 not only helps solidify our dream team’s ability to drive a defense off the ball, he captains our All Facial Hair squad to boot. The 6’1 285 pounder employs an attack-at-all-times mentality and was one of the most destructive pullers in Tri-State football. Delivers a consistently substantial initial blow to whoever he’s paired up with and I thought, for his size, did a very credible job getting to the second level and tracking down Linebackers. A two-time All-WB6 selection, Miller fronted for an offense that punted just five times in the regular season and produced running lanes for your KHQA Player of the Year.

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    BRADEN OEST, Tackle, Beardstown

    THE SKINNY: It was a great year for Centers in Tri-State Football, not so much for Tackles. Pittsfield-transfer Braden Oest was the notable exception. His presence added a dimension of needed physicality to the Beardstown O-Line and played incredibly well in concert with Chad Grimm’s power running. Braden’s quickness at 260 pounds is unmatched, on both sides of the ball. That first step is a thing; violent and sudden, allowing him to summon his considerable power. Great hand fighter with supreme close in strength who clearly relished the joys of knocking an opponent’s block off. First Team All WIVC and a deserving one.

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    Second Team Selections

    (Chosen without regard to Position)

    BLAKE POLING, Quincy High

    MASON KLIETHERMES, Scotland County

    JOSH DRENNAN, Hannibal

    TANNER ALLEN, Triopia

    JAKE GARNETT, Illini West

    ADAM KIRCHNER, Beardstown

    LOUIE PAGLIARA, QND

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    Third Team Selections

    JOHN SULLIVAN, Rushville/Industry

    JACOB BOWEN, Bowling Green

    SKYLAR HEATHERLY, Pleasant Hill/Western

    JADON UNDERHILL, Monroe City

    GRANT MCROBERT, Scotland County

    ZANE HUBBLE, Knox County

    JACKSON GREEN, Central

    SETH BRAY, Macon

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    DEFENSIVE LINE

    First Team Selections

    ZACH ROULAND, DE, Triopia

    THE SKINNY: An absolutely beastly dude who played with one of the strongest bases in Tri-State Football. A former Middle Linebacker (who actually reprised his former role to great aplomb in the upset win over Beardstown) that made the move to Defensive End to help project needed size for the Trojans. And at 6’3” 230 pounder, infusing physicality and gravitas to the Triop Front Wall proved right in Zach’s wheelhouse. The twist here, however, is that Rouland amplified it without surrendering his Linebacker or former Fullback mobility. Rouland became a very effective run and hit guy in short order. He still managed to post 71 tackles from the edge, which speaks to his ethic and motor. But he also brought great splash play ability to the mix, leading the Trojans with team highs in Quarterback Sacks (five) and Tackles for Loss (seven) More than that, I dig Zach Rouland’s ability to hit the switch and cause havoc. His football gear is Jekyll/Hyde, an engaging, intelligent guy who goes full Godzilla when the lights come on and it matters most. See also his critical tour de force individual effort against Arcola; singularly destroying the Purple Riders best Offensive Lineman and essentially crippling the psyche of an entire opponent in the process in so doing. I have no idea what Zach’s individual numbers were in that game. I’d argue that stats were immaterial. Rouland simply owned that game and it became clear eight snaps in Arcola was doomed because they had no answer or cure for Number 56. You know I am a sucker for big game dominance from the bigs. Rouland’s afternoon that Saturday cemented his already deserved place here.

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    MAX HAYS, DE, Monroe City

    THE SKINNY: The All-State nod as a Sophomore was no fluke. Max Hays is an F-5 tornado of Defensive Playmaking havoc who seems to be not only getting better by the snap, but simultaneously ascending into that Matt Frankenbach/Sam Hasekamp tier of elite, game changing Cannon Linemen. A relentless upfield worker who loves the rough and tumble of caving in offensive linemen, while possessing a special talent for discarding them as quickly and easily as any of the great D-Linemen we’ve seen in the CC in recent years; Hays finished the year with a team leading five and half quarterback sacks, He also posted eleven tackles for loss, second on his team only to CCC Defensive Player of Jonathan Saxbury and netted sixty total stops. You can see it in Max playing on both sides of the ball; he generates a great deal of instantaneous drive and torque off the ball that allows him to play bigger than his frame. Speed is a component of power and that is a real field-tilter for Max. He gets to his top level speed faster than anyone else, which is why there is so much suddenness to his play. There’s also no real give to him. And his ability to launch himself off the snap count makes him a bit of a human battering-ram in collapsing offensive lines. I am not sure there is a D-Linemen who spends more time in opponents backfields. And he’s got another year in the Weight Room to get even stronger moving forward. There is no cap on this guy’s ceiling as Senior. He will be as dominant as he wants and works to be.

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    JAKE COLE, DE, Illini West

    THE SKINNY: Again, you have to view Charger defenders through a little different prism than everyone else, because the IW Defense doesn’t really lend itself to bloating individual stat totals. There’s a reason, however, that Jake Cole was a 2A First Team Coaches Association All Stater and hit reads far beyond the 39 tackles, 3.5 stops for loss, and two-and-a-half Quarterback sacks he delivered. Jake’s value here was his physicality; his ability to dominate the man across from him on the line of scrimmage (really, on both sides of the football) and allow the guys behind him to shine. The 6’2” 220 pound Senior played with incredible point of attack force; to the point where opponents really could not move or reckon with him in any way other than to try to scheme away from him. If you, in essence, deny your opponents a side of the field to operate against, that’s a very telling indicator of your relative importance to both scheme and team. One of the main talking points this off-season for IW was letting Michael Lafferty work his magic in the weight room. Jake Cole’s ascent shows the value of that trench power in holding opponents to barely 16 points per game. You build a great defense around pillars. I’d argue Jake Cole and Michael Lord were two of the most impactful such defenders of gravity in Western Illinois this season. And to be able to employ them so well in concert explains everything you likely need to know about the Chargers renaissance and 10 game win streak to start the season.

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    DANTE READING, NG, Hannibal

    THE SKINNY: Mark St Clair will tell you point blank that the single most important factor in Hannibal’s success this season was Dante Reading willingly and unselfishly moving from Fullback to Nose Tackle.and turning into the King of the Monsters in the Middle. Dante’s low center of gravity, his incredible leg strength, and his freakish ability to go from 0-60 faster than any Defensive Linemen in the region made a nearly impossible-to-deal-with wrecking ball to opponents interior three on the Offensive Line. He created space and opportunity for the guys behind him with his line collapsing charges into the backfield; but Dante was the rare Interior Linemen who could shed and pursue for himself. Fifty total tackles is a big number for a Nose Tackle. The twenty tackles for loss and six quarterback sacks he was credited for are unheard metrics for the position. Dante was literally the human equivalent of swinging a wrecking ball into an opposing offensive line. He left nothing but open space and chaos strewn in his wake, earning Class 4 Second Team All-State honors along the way. We strongly considered Dante for Missouri/Iowa Defensive MVP as well. And the case was decidedly strong. The guy gave up glory and glamour and grit and grindand was actually made better for it. That’s a great story right there.

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    CHAD GRIMM, DT, Beardstown

    THE SKINNY: The top ranked 220 pound Wrestler in Class 1A was every bit the physical powerhouse you would have expected him to be at both Fullback and Nose Tackle for Robbi Howard’s Tigers as well. He’s just an unfairly powerful man given reign to physically manhandle lesser mammals through football. It’s a broken premise from the word go; especially if you’ve ever seen the kid work on the mats. He’s possessed of both a nimble quickness and unreal hand/eye coordination that allows him to savage bigger, slower Offensive Linemen as if there cleats were stuck in quicksand off the snap of the football. As if that weren’t unfair enough, Chad has both a ridiculously strong base and the ability to stop even the girthiest tackles in their tracks with his upper body strength. Grimm might just be the most savage hand fighter you’ll encounter in the Tri-State trenches. He will absolutely sap your strength, every single snap with his raw, natural power. Chad finished the year with 53 tackle (again, an outlier for the position) and 3.5 quarterback sacks. He also doubled as one of the region’s most brutish Fullbacks.

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    REMINGTON BUEHLER, DT, Central

    THE SKINNY: Remi Buehler might not have been the Panthers best Defensive Player as a Junior, but the argument is convincingly made that the 340 pound Junior Tackle was Central’s most important. One a defense rife with speedy, undersized guys (so much so that Brad Dixon considers it the best pursuit unit he has ever fielded) the one glaring need was a true anchor. Buehler’s size, ability to get off the football and get up the field nimbly, and much improved motor made that happen. There’s also an argument to be made that Adam Kleinschmidt getting the better of Remi in the regular season meeting with Triopia accelerated that growth curve; hurt his pride and made him reach down and find new levels of physicality and endurance that ultimately resulted in Buehler avenging himself nicely on Kleinschmidt and the Trojans in the State Quarterfinals as the best Defensive Player on the field that day. Again, there’s profit to be found in struggle and we got a different level of Remi Buehler because he got punched in the mouth a little early on. The Second Team All WIVC Pick finished the year with 61 total tackles and second on his state runner-up squad with eight stops for loss. His potential, with continued hard off-season work and a continuingly simmering inner fire, is truly immense. If Remi isn’t recklessly tossing around Class 1A Offensive Linemen in his Senior Year and there’s not a nightly path of destruction hewn in his wake, I will be the most surprised and disappointed observer around because this young man has a chance to be the nastiest Bull Walrus on the Beach; likely for all of Tri-State Football.

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    Second Team Picks

    BRYCE FLESNER, DE, Central

    WHY HE’S HERE: The most rail-thin Defensive Lineman in Tri-State Football didn’t play like a guy who weighed a buck seventy-five after a buffet table trip. Speed, guile, and unlimited reserves of personal reserve allowed Bryce Flesner to shine as a kind of quasi-Rover who happened to line up on the Defensive Edge. His long arms served him like a lasso, gobbling up 70 total tackles, five stops for loss, and a pair of quarterback sacks. Watch him on tape and Bryce is uncannily always within arm’s length of the action. And the First Team All WIVC Pick possessed a great deal of big play elan and panache. This is the ultimate productivity over profile pick, but a deserved one for the Conscience of the Panther’s State Qualifying Defense.

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    BRYANT GIBBONS, DE, North Shelby

    WHY HE’S HERE: One of the true success stories of North Shelby’s schematic tinkering and re-dedicated Defensive mindset. Gibbons was the top tackler and most ardent disruptor for the Eight Man Raiders on a unit that allowedget ready for it.319 fewer points in 2018 than it did a year prior. Fifty eight of Bryant’s 100 tackles were of the solo variety. He also posted a Team Leading 12 tackles behind the line of scrimmage as well as 4.5 quarterback sacks in his Senior Year in route to All Conference and District plaudits.

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    KOREY VAN FLEET, FLEX, West Hancock

    WHY HE’S HERE: First Team West Central Conference selection who led the Titans back to the playoffs with nearly 90 total tackles for the year. Potsy Clark Award winner as Titan’s most valuable overall player as well as his team’s Defensive MVP.

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    GARRET BRANNAN, DE, Beardstown

    WHY HE’S HERE: One of the more meaningful breakout stories of the season. Garrett Brannan may have been a bit of a late bloomer, but his Senior Year Pass Rushing talents positively tweaked the entire defensive equation in Beardstown this Fall. The First Team All WIVC North Selection savaged Offensive Linemen for seven quarterback sacks this Fall as well as 53 total tackles.

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    BRENDEHN SCHUTTE, DT, Quincy High

    WHY HE’S HERE: Late bloomer who really came into his own as a Senior, despite his late arrival to the game of Football. The 6’1” 240 pounder added range and toughness to a relatively green Blue Devil Defense in route to First Team Western Big Six honors. Emphatic tackler who, along with Blake Poling, savaged Rock Island up front on Homecoming in QHS high water mark Defensive Effort of the season.

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    CHASE STUTES, DT, Central Lee

    WHY HE’S HERE: A very bright beacon in an otherwise pretty rough year in Donnellson. The Central Lee Senior Strongman broke out nicely with 52 total tackles, 38 of them solos and a team high seven takedowns behind the line of scrimmage. The storyline may not have featured a Hollywood ending for the 285 pound mauler but he cobbled together three very good varsity seasons worth of production.

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    Third Team Picks

    BRYAN SMITH, Highland

    ALAI STONE, Macomb

    GARET VAN HYNING, Brown County

    GUY TIMBROOK, South Shelby

    PJ HILDEBRAND, Unity/Payson

    GUS WILLIAMS, North Shelby

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    LINEBACKER

    First Team Selections

    CASON WILT, ILB, South Shelby

    THE SKINNY: The Clarence Cannon’s next Defensive Kraken has been unleashed. Watching Cason Wilt play seek-and-destroy in the ice and mire that was Westran’s “playing surface” during the Class 1-District 6 Title bout was about the only joy I could derive from an otherwise frigidly miserable night in Huntsville. The Cardinal Junior posted a team high eleven tackles and eight solo stops on a night when roaming three yards in any direction was treacherously slippery business for every other player of the field. The Free Folk north of the wall in Westeros weren’t this good on ice and snow. But there was Cason, just furiously firing away and delivering huge one-man play stoppages. And the kid had absolutely zero give to him. Sure, he’s built for throwback Middle Linebacker work at 5’10 and 225 pounds but there is a functional football strength to the way he stacks people up that goes beyond just squat rack gains. Cason seems to naturally understand his own leverage and generates real explosiveness to the football. I have no idea what the kid’s 40 time might be. But I can guarantee you that if you put a vulnerable running back at the finish line of that 40 for Wilt to hit, he’d post a p.r. every single time. He's quick to contact, which is to my mind, a better attribute than being just fast without with functionality. Explosion matters and Cason demonstrated its value in knifing through linemen to post 23 tackles for loss, which is a gigantic number. He had four TFL each against both Palmyra and Knox County; teams with pretty fair Offensive Lines in opposition. I’d say that speaks pretty well to his zeal for and talent in busting up a backfield. Cason finished the year with 128 total tackles, 81 of them solo stops; which is a savage work rate. He also hauled in a pair of interceptions. There’s a lot of raw skill there still bubbling below the surface. Cason still has got some off-season sculpting and tuning to do if he wants to spin this forward into a college career; but the ceiling is clearly in evidence as you can see flashes of Bryce Johnson/Austin Sears type MLB goodness in his hunt down and finishing abilities. To these eyes, this kid looks to be the heir apparent to the Cannon’s prestigious and well-lineaged tradition of Impact Defensive POY’s in 2019. Anxious to see just how he maximizes this window and what prime-Cason Wilt rates on the Football Fujita Scale next Fall.

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    KALEO DADE, ILB, Bowling Green

    THE SKINNY: No one in Northeast Missouri Football, heck perhaps the entire Tri-States, wears the Heel role more proudly or effectively. Kaleo Dade doesn’t care if you find his confidence in his own abilities or his fearlessness of yours off-putting. He’s here to hit you, not make life-long friends outside his Bobcat Football circle. And he’s really good at that contact part. To the tune of 422 total tackles in a fabulous four year career that has seen him commit himself to the single-minded task of putting some respect back on the reputation of Bobcat Defensive Football. And let’s face it, EMO Defenses over the last few years haven’t exactly made anyone cower so perhaps that puts the chip on Kaleo’s shoulder out there in a little more understandable perspective. He’s a proud kid and he wants to change that standard. And he can only do that by forceand sheer force of will. Dade plays Linebacker relentlessly. And he plays it with the mindset of trying to make you quit. He’s got excellent pursuit ability and his ability to coil/recoil upon contact makes him hit much bigger than his 190lbs would suggest. What I love about Kaleo is that he naturally plays through opponents, not to them. It’s sudden and violent. And there is no wasted motion. Once the kid gets into you, you aren’t getting off the tackle. And he diagnoses pursuit angles instantly and effectively. He’s also worked incredibly hard to get better every year; which I think speaks to his maturity. The game came to him pretty easily as Freshman/Sophomore. But he didn’t recede into being comfortable with that. Jason Chinn and Kevin Krietemeyer found ways to get him push his own boundaries and I think we saw that in a 127 tackle senior season. Ninety of those stops were solo tackles, which underscores just how great he is at the art of the takedown. Don’t let the cosmetic swagger fool you. Kaleo really wants to be great and has worked diligently to make himself so over the last four years. It might not have swung the pendulum on the overall Bobcat Defensive Performance as much as he might have wanted, but he did set a standard for the future not only with his numbers, but his efforts and tenacity. That’s quite a legacy for quite a powerhouse ‘Backer. And I foresee an even brighter future to come at the next level when Kaleo gets to graft his skills and physicality into the more evolved, talent-laden collegiate schemes that await.

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    ROBERT MAUCK, ILB, Knox County

    THE SKINNY: I realize the Eagles fell off the map for a lot of you after losing four straight losses (in largely ugly fashion) to finish 4-6 and sully some early season buzz. Optics of that aside, Robert Mauck was a no-doubter pick for us here. The Junior earned unanimous First Team Lewis & Clark honors after posting a team best 118 tackles in ten games; 80 of them solo stops. To put his individual resonance here into perspective, Robert produced three times as many tackles and nearly four times as many individual take downs as his next most active teammate. Robert is a fascinating prospect in that he’s producing these nifty numbers largely on pure physical ability at this point. He’s played a significant amount of football over the last three years. He’s been increasingly more productive every season. And he profiles nifty size, good range, some natural instinctiveness and an obvious, outlier zeal for contact. If he can ratchet up his technique and polish to match in his Senior Year, we are looking at young man with a rather intriguing ceiling and I’d think a pretty promising college future in the sport. He’s a super strong point of attack kid. To some degree, however, I think that has made him play a bit too up and down. He can get away with in at this level because he’s strong enough to hit kids high and bulldog almost 85% of them on his brute power alone, which is considerable. If you are projecting him forward, you’d love to see what a kid this strong could do playing with a little more “z in the knee” thus allowing him to launch himself more powerfully into contact. Again, he’s built for that duty and you can tell watching his video there’s a lot of residual pop this already big time hitter can still find to summon. And I absolutely love his approach; the relish and relentlessness he brings to the task of sticking his nose in and wanting to finish people off. If he makes that next evolution next season (something he has done without fail his first three years) there’s a very good chance this guy could be the most feared monster-in-the-middle in Northeast Missouri. The sky is that high for Robert Mauck; even in a loaded Linebacker Field.

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    CARTER WEAVER, ILB, BWP

    THE SKINNY: We had the very viable option here of taking Carter Weaver for his stalwart blocking ability at Offensive Tackle as well, but Defense was the Sparclones long suit in 2018 and the inside/outside dynamic that he and Wes Rhoads provided was the biggest field tilter in that equation. Carter earned unanimous First Team All Prairieland honors for his work in helping suffocate opposing ground games. One of the most determined, hard running and rangy kids anywhere in our region this Fall, Carter finished with a team high 95 tackles, including 33 solo stops in holding six of BWP’s nine opponents to 19 or fewer total points. Might not have been a household name or enjoyed the level of visibility other guys on this list did for teams with winning records; but Carter Weaver is a pure gamer and could have been a cornerstone for any squad in Tri-State Football.

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    DYLAN JEFFERS, OLB, Keokuk

    THE SKINNY: I tried to warn you people than Dylan Jeffers in Quentin Hamner’s Black Death Defensive Scheme was going to be a problem. And the Keokuk junior showed all the earmarks of rising to circumstance; leading his team in solo tackles (28) quarterback sacks (4) and most tellingly here, tackles for loss (11) while posting the second highest number of total stops on the team. Jeffers has the full-on “it” gene as a Defensive Playmaker. He runs to the football at rate that seems to make everyone around him look like they are moving in slow-motion. Whether it is turning the edge of on Offensive Linemen before he can get out of his stance, defying gravity like Marvin Bagley to bat down a pass attempt, or showing “lion vs wounded gazelle” backside pursuit to make a tackle he has no business making; Dylan draws the eye like few defensive talents in Tri-State Football right now. And I’d argue he’s still far from a fully polished product. He just does things on instinct and natural ability right now that not many high school kids have the capability of equaling. But here’s the question: is Dylan Jeffers satisfied with being merely very good. Or does he want to be Player of the Year? To my mind, Jeffers has the highest ceiling of any Linebacker in the area. The things that come easy to him come too easy to him. To be that next level guy, however, Dylan is going to have to absolutely kill it in the weight room this summer. (Heck if I were he, I’d drive across the river, introduce myself to Bryce Wilson, and adopt his whole “Pinball Wizard/Shaolin Monk/live in a squat rack” lifestyle until August) He certainly has the frame to profit. His field discipline has to get better sharpened as well. Compare and contrast Dylan with say, Noah Strohkirch for a second. Jeffers is physically more gifted. But Noah was more productive because he plays like a guy with no margin for error and thusly never, ever seems to miss a tackle. Sometimes that means eschewing the risky splash hit for the simple takedown. And that’s the weird paradigm that Dylan needs to understand here. He’s STILL got the physical ability to make even some of those boring tackles into something special. But Keokuk absolutely can’t afford to have their centerpiece guy whiff on the gimmies, because he’s the cornerstone of this Defense moving into next year. He’s both the tone setter and the safety net for guys around him and once he grasps his own relative importance to the team defense dynamic, I think he makes the leap. And Jeffers does, name a Linebacker who is remotely in his league. Caleb Lapsley, perhaps. But again, that list is really short. Which again underscores what a dynamic, fun prospect this young man really is. Can’t think of a Backer I enjoyed more watching at Max-Q this Fall.

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    MICHAEL LORD, OLB, Illini West

    THE SKINNY: The all-hands-in nature of the Charger Defense is such that it doesn’t lend itself to lofty individual stat totals. This is a unit who you actually have to see in person, to gain a sense of who actually serves as the cornerstone pieces. My first in-person viewing of IW came against North Fulton and it became readily apparent (very quickly) just how rangy and athletic a set-piece Michael Lord was to defense that gave up just 16 points per game. There’s a legitimate argument to be made that Lord and Nick Vorhies served as the best 1-2 Inside Linebacker Punch in Tri-State Football. But for our purposes, Lord’s speed and chase-down ability always made him feel like a Rover or even a chase down strong Safety playing a hybrid spot for Lyle Klein. He’s a guy with outlier ability to drop into coverage and contest the jump ball with anyone. (He ended with a pair of interceptions) And his quickness, intelligence and refusal to back down from anyone made him the leading tackler on this squad against the run. He really was the Swiss Army Knife not only of the Charger Defense, but I would argue of the IW Roster as a whole with the ability to impact a game as a Linebacker, fill-in running back, pass catching threat and (as we saw against Mercer County) breakaway Return threat. Michael was a unanimous First Team All-Prairieland Selection on Defense and splashy enough to shine as a speed guy even on a roster full of same. To me, I just love the way the dude got after people. Lord was a superb tackler and especially skilled at getting into the legs of much bigger running backs. I saw him literally hunker down in coverage against North Fulton and spring from off-radar to win a jump ball interception. And he had a very tangible “next gear” in big moments in big games. Tremendous athlete who was grittier than sandpaper-flavored chewing gum. And even with the accolades he received, Michael Lord still feels a little relatively undervalued and underappreciated to me.

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    AVERY EPPERSON, ILB, Mark Twain

    THE SKINNY: This spot has been reserved here for Avery since I got to witness his 17 tackle/14 solo stop opening night against Louisiana in person in Week One. The Tiger Junior has an engine that revs constantly above the red line and that desire and work rate translated into incredible production. Avery finished the year with 136 total tackles and a ridiculously impressive 82 solo stops. He’s been a First Team All EMO pick in every year of varsity football, in one capacity or another, and the Mark Twain wrecking ball just keeps getting bigger and better as he goes; which makes for a pretty scary proposition in 2019. You won’t find a player with greater personal resolve. See also his three rushing touchdown effort against Schuyler County in the District, where Avery put on a clinic in red zone toughness and pile pushing with his trio of brutish scoring jaunts. He’s just a delightfully old school, no-frills uber-reliable producer. I suspect he inherits a much bigger offensive role as a Senior and given his prior resume of exceeding expectations, don’t be surprised if Avery doesn’t launch himself into some kind of POY or MVP discussion. He’s one of those rare guys who you just wind him up and get out of the way, because good things tend to spring up in his destructive wake for your Football Team.

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    Second Team Selections

    DIEGO LOZANO, Fort Madison

    WHY HE’S HERE: The Hound defense has come a long way in Tony Shiffman’s short tenure. Cultivating more brute-force Diego Lozano-types will only further accelerate the reclamation process. A super hard kid to keep of the first team, given his “turn the tide” approach and importance to a program that has historically struggled to amplify the right level of toughness, intensity and productivity on Defense. Diego’s Senior campaign might prove to be that Rosetta Stone for his Linebacker Successors to more completely set this thing right. Lozano led the Hounds in total tackles, solo stops (44) and assists (54) His splash play ability, however, was the real find here with a spectacular 20 tackles for loss in nine games and four quarterback sacks. Huge fan of this guy’s approach, the way he relishes contact and the manner in which he has translated his takedown ability on the wrestling mat to the gridiron.

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    BLAKE CLAYTON, West Central

    WHY HE’S HERE: He was the hardest guy here to keep off the First Team because Blake Clayton’s savage hitting ability was very much a thing in 2018. The First Team All WIVC South Selection was terrific off the blitz and super quick to contact in general. He’s to be commended as well for stepping up as a leader by example for one of the Tri-State’s most promising young squads.

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    SIMON HOLTSCHLAG, QND

    WHY HE’S HERE: Like Blake Clayton, another kid we wrestled with as a potential First Team selection. I know the Raiders had their share of collective struggles this Fall but Simon Holtschlag flat got after people. Again. The First Team West Central Conference selection was QND’s Defensive Foundation piece, delivering team highs in total tackles (97) and stops for loss (7) and it’s hard not to love the hard-nosed manner in which he manned the position. Fundamentally terrific tackler with outlier instincts for finding his way to the point of impact.

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    CLINT COOPER, Beardstown

    WHY HE’S HERE: He made a truly amazing ascent at Quarterback for the Tigers this Fall but Clint Cooper’s true football calling card remains his heat-seeking missle act as a Linebacker. The Beardstown Junior bagged 122 total tackles in route to First Team WIVC honors, including 55 solo stops.

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    SPENCER GREGORY, Clark County

    WHY HE’S HERE: My final ballot for KHQA Player of the Year went Jirehl Brock, Zach Thompson, London Brunk. In that order. I point this out here to suggest that if he wasn’t a bit overshadowed by his own teammate’s unreal Senior Season, Spencer Gregory might be a legitimately easy argue here as Clark County’s most valuable and important player. Stepped in and changed the dynamics of the Indian Offense when Caleb Lapsley got hurt and added a needed element of physicality to the offense. Then teamed with Tanner Elam to salvage an injury riddled Linebacking Corps that was supposed to be the area’s best going into the year. With little fall off. That’s a big bite. Spencer posted gigantic individual numbers at OLB with nearly 100 tackles and 10 stops for loss as well as four forced fumble. He’s just a really good football player that you could essentially wind up and forget about at just about any position on the field. He’s that versatile. And incredibly tough and physical. Not sure this was ever properly appreciated but it needs to be. Spencer Gregory was a tipping point piece this year and I am not sure anyone saw that coming on this star studded roster preseason. But in retrospect, it’s an immutable fact.

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    Third Team Selections

    BRADY BARNETT, Palmyra

    TANNER ELAM, Clark County

    JORDAN SCHAFER, Hannibal

    DENVER GRUENLOH, Macon

    WES RHODES, BWP

    NATE WILSON, Quincy High

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    DEFENSIVE BACKS

    First Team Selections

    LONDON BRUNK, Clark County

    THE SKINNY: If you would have asked me in August, this is not how I thought I would be writing the Senior Year saga of London Brunk. Then again, this kid has been a constantly evolving and surprising repository of emerging gridiron goodness since the varsity debut. It was really easy to get fixated on the Clark County star’s Quarterbacking prowess, the ascent he made that position, and the invaluable nature of his play especially when Caleb Lapsley got hurt. And honestly, none of that has really changed. He was a top five Quarterback in Tri-State Football this season, stack them subjectively as you wish. The plot twist here is that London made yet another personal ascent; this time on the other side of the ball. And for my money his turn in the Secondary made him the Best Pure Defensive Back in Tri-State Football. Both ways. Lock down cover corner. Vibrant impact guy coming up against the run as well. All of this again made more amazing in the fact that London did this pulling double duty. He finished the year with 64 total tackles and four picks; but that only hints at the reach of his impact. Throw out the Blair Oaks game (because Nolan Hair is a metahuman) and there isn’t an instance where a team was able to successfully go at Brunk’s side of the field through the air. And honestly, I don’t know if it was a worse proposition running directly at London or trying to go away from his side of the field given his chase down talents. Brunk earned Second Team All-State Honors from the Missouri Coaches Association. If there are four better Class 2 Corners in the Show-Me State, I haven’t seen them. And I can guarantee they didn’t carry as wide-ranging or reaching a total resume. Again, watching London transform himself into all of these incredibly and increasingly better football incarnations has been a real treat. It speaks, I think to one of the more important greater truths here. That Brunk is really just a tremendous overall football player, period. Throw out position and circumstance. The guy just has a gift for competition and finding ways to beat people. Kids like that tend to really excel in College. He’s clearly worth a dice roll by someone here.

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    BRANDON ROSSMILLER, Central

    THE SKINNY: In putting together these types of Award Teams, I think people in my position often get too caught up in looking at All Conference honors or college choices or reputations or school politics and sometimes inadvertently ignore the feedback from their eyes. Here’s the deal: I realize Brandon Rossmiller is as a Sophomore whose best football is very far ahead of him. By the same token, did you not see the football this dude played for Brad Dixon this season, merely scratching the surface of his considerable talents? I sure did. A half dozen interceptions, netting some 208 return yards thanks to his blistering sprinter’s speed. Sixty eight total stops in 14 games, almost five a contest playing at the back end of a defense loaded with game changing, rangy tackle vultures. I get that his ascent came late in the year, but aren’t we supposed to be looking for ascendant players? Isn’t postseason impact somehow representative of clutch-ness? Rossmiller was a completely invaluable piece now. Forget the fact that he is likely the best hope this program has to mitigate the impact of two-time All Stater Cole Williams graduation. Rossmiller might be skilled enough of his own accord to match that feat, especially when given a two-way workload. All I can tell you with certainty is that Rossmiller was the splashiest and most prolific underclass Defender I saw in West Central Illinois this Fall. And it isn’t really a true All-Star Secondary without him represented Front and Center here from the jump. Let’s not ignore just how awesome the prelude actually was to Rossmiller’s career in light of what may follow.

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    COLTON SARGEANT, Illini West

    THE SKINNY: Speed kills, or so the adage goes, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more sudden two-way play than Illini West’s Colton Sargeant. The Charger Senior proved the ultimate “big splash” guy for Lyle Klein’s crew with 13.5 yards per carry and 25.5 yards per catch averages on offense and his human swarm act on the other side of the football. Colton bounced around the field for 21 solo tackles this season and gave the Charger defense the feeling of having a fail-safe against opponents big plays. It was also like he could teleport instantly to the place of greatest need. The big headline for Colton was his six total interceptions but I would argue his presence against the run, even in the absence of inflated stats, was just as critical. When you have a guy who can run with just about any receiver thrown his wayand who is still willing to come up and interdict the run, that’s a considerable asset. He also added a pick six interception the cause, one of 14 total touchdowns he provided on a very limited slate of touches. Colton ended up earning 1st Team All Prairieland Black Division honors both offensively and defensively and proved a huge tipping point in leaving this program in better shape than he inherited it.

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    DEZI JONES, Hannibal

    THE SKINNY: I get that basketball is Dezi Jones first love and a family legacy. By the same token, had this guy played football for four years, he’d be getting the kind of gridiron recruiting attention that we all think he should be getting in the hardwood arena. The world has a glut of undersized Point Guards; so much so that even kids as gifted as Dezi tend to get undervalued. Defensive Backs with this kind of range, even as green First Year players, however are a seller’s market. The guy was incredible as a two way player this year, especially when you factor in the brief span of his football career. First team All NCMC as a Defensive Back. Second Team as a Wide Receiver? The game isn’t supposed to be this easy. And yet, Dezi’s uncanny ability to go from 0-60 and his even better ability to change direction/intention at warp speed fully translated from Day One. He caught 23 passes this year, a quarter of which went for touchdowns. More amazingly, he morphed into a really good tackler. I expected Dezi to be able to cover, just because of his range and his gifts. The run support he provided blew my mind. I had to double check my program at the jamboree when I saw him make a textbook takedown of Jarom Alexander because that’s not easy to do. And yet, he just got into the guys legs like he had been trained to it all along. He’s an extraordinary athlete. I am convinced he’s just a sports savant. We joked the other day that he might pick up a tennis racket tomorrow and win a state title in the Spring just of sheer ability to blanket the court alone. I hope Hannibal folks are enjoy this experience because kids like Dezi Jones don’t come along very often. And he added extra joy to the Football season in so doing this Fall. Glad he rolled that die.

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    LANCE WILLIAMS, Monroe City

    THE SKINNY: The guy who got the least amount of preseason press in Titletown turned out to be one of the Panthers three best players. Lance Williams had a marvelous Senior season, doing a little bit of everything to sure up what could have been Monroe City’s biggest question preseason mark. The Panthers graduated a transformational kid in Dawson Shively. Lance Williams apparently learned the art of playing the thrown football well from the master in 2017 because he did some incredibly Dawson-esque things in pass coverage. Williams size and ability to time his break on the football netted a pair of interceptions and eight total pass defenses. Moreover, he proved to be of enormous value in run support; a kid who threw his body around with reckless abandon against all comers in effort to end plays. He proved a savvy, polished setpiece playing one of the hardest spots on the field.

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    Second Team Selections

    PEYTON DOOLEY, West Hancock

    WHY HE’S HERE: First Team All WCC pick who really showed his quality as a Senior. His emergence in the Offensive Backfield gave the Titans the counterpunch weapon they desperately needed to balance Bryce Wilson. And maybe that should not have surprised us. Peyton is a mix of absolute fearlessness (in all sports) and jarring suddenness. Those qualities served him even more ably at the back end of the Titan Defense where his 50 tackles grouted a lot of the gaps in a defense I think can fairly be described as hit and miss. He cleaned up more than a few messes and missed assignments Peyton earned a spot in the Shrine All Star Game in June in Peoria with his Senior Year play and he’s a guy who is likely to turn some heads. His demeanor and his intelligence, coupled with really nice size at 195 pounds would make someone a wonderful developmental strong safety at the next level.

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    KAELIN KENDRICK-O’BRYAN, Monroe City

    WHY HE’S HERE: The KKO phenomenon reached its defensive zenith with his game-clinching red zone heroics against Clark County in the regular season meeting. In point of fact, though, his size and fantastic reaction ability made him a consistent contributor at the back all season long for Brock Edris’ defense. Monroe City didn’t put the ball in the air very often, but when they did, Kaelin proved an inviting target with both his ability to outrun or outsize (often both) high school defensive backs. A Second Team All CCC pick and deservedly so.

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    BLAKE CLAAS, Macon

    WHY HE’S HERE: I honestly only got to see the Tigers once in person (against a decidedly run-oriented Monroe City squad) so I am taking this one on the recommendation of a source whose football knowledge I trust. Cannon Conference First Teamer who had 38 tackles (26 of them solo stops) and an interception and sack in leading a young squad to eight wins. Very athletic Junior who will be at the very epicenter of the Tigers 2019 game plan on both sides of the ball.

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    CARSON ORR, North Shelby

    WHY HE’S HERE: The Freshman Class at North Shelby has a chance to be something pretty special. Carson Orr was the first to spike for Seth Bass, settling in quickly at Defensive Back with three games of 10 or more tackles and finishing second on the squad with 72 stops. Fifty four of those were solo stops, which is a considerable output and speaks to a willingness to stick his nose in against the run. Carson also added a pair of interceptions to the resume as well.

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    LOGAN PERRIGO, Mark Twain

    WHY HE’S HERE: Outstanding Safety prospect who could really spike in his Senior Year next Fall for the intriguing Tigers. Logan posted 83 total tackles in run support as a Junior, with stops for loss and a pair of interceptions. He also rushed for just over 1000 yards and six touchdowns as well.

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    Third Team Selections

    PRESTON BENNETT, Hannibal

    REESE BARTON, Paris

    WESTON POLLOCK, Illini West

    GAGE MYERS, West Central

    AVERY QUIGLEY, Beardstown

    SETH FISCHER, Brown County

    ==============================

    Special Teams

    KICKER: DEVIN NEALLY, Quincy High

    RETURN: BLAKE HAYS, Monroe City

    ==============================

    THE 2018 KHQA HUSTLE TEAM

    (The Most Criminally Underrated Crew in 2018 Football)

    QB-SHAWN YATES, Clopton/Elsberry

    RB-CHAYSE HOUSTON, Central

    RB-BRAYLON MARTINEZ, Keokuk

    RB-MICHAEL BURNS, Triopia

    APB-ERIC HOMBS, Van-Far

    WR-JUSTIN JENNEWEIN, Clopton/Elsberry

    WR-KADEN KOCH, Highland

    OL-DANNY DENNISON, Monroe City

    OL-CONNOR BRIDGEWATER, Triopia

    OL-MATHIAS BRIDGES, Mark Twain

    OL-TY JACKSON, Illini West

    OL-ETHAN EVERHARDT, Bowling Green

    DL-COLLIN GROSS, Unity/Payson

    DL-JULIUS SHARROW, Central

    DL-GARET VANHYNING, Brown County

    DL-TYLER HOPKINS, Louisiana

    LB-JAXON MUELLER, Camp Point Central

    LB-HUNTER LILLY, Monroe City

    LB-GRANT JAMES, Quincy High

    LB-JACK MARTH, QND (Injury)

    LB-CHAYSON KLEINE, Clark County (Injury)

    LB-NOLAN PENNEWELL, Monroe City

    LB-COLLIN SALLEY, Central

    ROVER-AUSTIN GAINES, Triopia

    DB-BRANSON MILLER, Knox County

    DB-KEATON LOGAN, Rushville/Industry

    K-BENET DUESTERHAUS, Unity/Payson

    ==================================

    THE BEST OF 2018

    Best Game: Beardstown/Triopia

    Best Hit: Jirehl Brock vs Belleville East

    Best Block: Gage Bottoms pancake vs Macon to score Zach Osborn

    Biggest Play: Cole Williams 86 yard TD run in State Quarterfinals vs Triopia

    Sickest Catch: Jirehl Brock one-handed grab vs Belleville East

    Best Running Back Group: Monroe City, again

    Best Receiver Group: Macon by an eyelash over Scotland County

    Best Offensive Line: Quincy High

    Best Defensive Line: Monroe City

    Best Linebackers: Central

    Best Secondary: Central

    Brightest Team Future: Winchester West Central

    Best Offense to Watch in 2019: Beardstown

    Best Defense to Watch in 2019: Still Central

    Biggest Boom/Bust Proposition in 2019: QND

    Best Frosh: Christjen Riekeberg, Macon

    Best Sophomore: Damian French, Hannibal

    Best Player on a Sub-500 Team: Dylan Jeffers, Keokuk

    Best Storyline: Central gets to Champaign

    Best Chance to Positively Reverse Fortunes in 2019: Brown County

    Best Bet to Surprise: Highland

    Biggest Injury Hit; Jacob Kroeger, Palmyra

    Biggest Improvement/Potentially Biggst Star of 2019: Caden Phillips, Macon

    Biggest Off-Season Storyline: Hannibal Coaching Search

    News In Photos

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